Every two weeks, Yamileth Hurtado, Josué Cordón and ten other volunteers from the Salvadorian Red Cross wait for a minibus that takes them to Río Frío, a community of over 200 families in the Department of San Vicente, an hour and a half away from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.
Once there, they meet with the health promoter and a group of volunteers from the community, mostly women and young people, that are part of the Zika Control and Prevention Committee. Together, they form teams of two or three people and start walking the streets of the village, visiting various houses to carry out surveillance and monitoring activities to prevent Zika virus infections.
“In the house-to-house visits, we look for larvae in water storage tubs (called “pilas” in El Salvador), tanks, containers or old tyres, where mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus like to reproduce”, says José Luis Pleite, member of the Committee, leaving one of the houses.
Yamileth explains that while one of the volunteers checks if there are mosquitoes breeding sites in the house and its surroundings, another completes a survey with a household’s member, collecting information on cases of Zika virus in the family. At the end of the visit, the volunteers explain how to eliminate breeding sites and prevent becoming infected with the virus, raising awareness amongst family members.
The young Red Cross volunteer stresses that the community is actively participating in the activities: “They [members of the community] have become the leaders and we now support them. They follow up on meetings and activities and their participation in the surveillance is constant. We are seeing a big change of attitude in this community, not only in adults, but also amongst children.
“We see that people from this community are eager to know more about the vector and how to keep their village in good shape. In addition to house-to-house visits, we have organized clean-ups in which the whole community participated. Moreover, we work with the local school and kids are sharing the knowledge acquired”, explains Josué at the end of the activity, before saying goodbye to the members of the Committee and heading to the Red Cross headquarters in San Salvador with the other volunteers.
The Salvadorian Red Cross is implementing activities for Zika prevention in ten communities of the Department of San Vicente, as part of the Community Action on Zika Project. In El Salvador, the Red Cross is reaching over 3000 families in the departments of San Salvador, La Libertad and San Vicente with this project.
The Community Action on Zika Project is an initiative of Save the Children and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, that is possible thanks to the generous support of American people thought Agency for International Development (USAID).