MIAMI – Malteser International Americas today launched its vital Zika Prevention Program in Magdalena and La Guajira, in northern Colombia, and began distributing 200 Zika Prevention Kits to pregnant women, mothers who are nursing, newborns and children up to 10 years old, and the older members of the community who are 65 and older.
In early February, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus as a “public health emergency of international concern.” Acting swiftly, Malteser International Americas partnered with Malteser Colombia to immediately help areas most threatened.
Prevention and education are paramount to tackling this virus where it is breeding, and to save unborn babies from potentially severe and life-threatening birth defects.
“Going right to the source and educating families about reducing stagnant water and taking personal preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites– is paramount to mitigating the transmission of the virus,” said Ravi Tripptrap, Executive Director, Malteser International Americas. “Our sole purpose is to protect pregnant women, children, families, and elderly, who are already suffering from the detrimental impact of drought, malnourishment, and sickness, in the region.”
“The outbreak of the Zika virus is adding to horrible problems that already exist in the area. Drastic climate patterns resulting from El Nino are causing higher temperatures, devastating droughts, water shortages, and the loss of crops. Low water levels in the region’s rivers become ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which potentially carry the virus,” said Jelena Kaifenheim, Regional Manager Latin America and Caribbean, Malteser International Americas. “Providing these people with the knowledge and protection they need now to prevent this virus is critical.”
Aid is dire in the region because the people lack the resources and the geographical proximity to markets to purchase preventive material, such as repellent. Each Zika Prevention Kit includes: a mosquito net, repellent safe for pregnant women, child-friendly repellent, and insecticide.
The distribution of the kits is the first step towards reaching the relief agency’s goal of distributing 2000 kits in the communities most at-risk. It is estimated that nearly 2000 people in the region are pregnant, nursing, young children and older adults. Providing these individuals with the knowledge and protection they need to prevent this virus vital. The humanitarian organization will also begin strengthening its critical community-wide prevention efforts.
Malteser International Americas urgently requesting donations to scale up their relief efforts. To help prevent the spread of the Zika virus, please visit www.orderofmaltarelief.org and make a life-saving donation today.
Malteser International Americas has been on the ground, shedding light and bringing relief to indigenous people and Afro-Colombians in northern Colombia affected by armed conflict and internal displacement since 2014, especially in the departments of Magdalena and La Guajira. As a result of the conflict, the Colombians in the region suffer from malnourishment and lack food security. To address these issues, and to help people live healthier lives with dignity, Malteser International Americas expanded its relief and development work in Colombia late last year.
About Malteser International Americas:
Malteser International Americas is a global humanitarian organization with a mission of supporting the vulnerable and marginalized so that they may live a healthy life with dignity. Through our U.S. headquarters, Malteser International Americas provides immediate disaster response and preparedness as well as vital healthcare and nutrition to vulnerable people in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
We are part of Malteser International, the humanitarian relief agency of the Order of Malta. With more than 100 projects annually in some 25 countries worldwide, we provide emergency relief after disasters and support recovery efforts, bridging the gap between humanitarian aid and sustainable development. For nearly 60 years, we have been standing by those affected by poverty, disease, conflict and disaster.