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September 22, 2017

Promoting Zika Prevention to Youth in El Salvador



Youth pose with the ZICORE mosquito mascot at Juventour 2017

By Angie Montes
BCC Officer, ZICORE El Salvador

On August 18th and 19th, MCDI's USAID-funded Zika Community Response (ZICORE) project hosted a booth at Juventour 2017 in San Salvador, El Salvador to provide information on how young people can prevent Zika. Juventour is an annual event coordinated by INJUVE, the National Institute for Youth, a governmental institution that supports young people in strengthening their capabilities and access opportunities in education, health, entrepreneurship, sports, culture and other areas that can enhance the quality of their lives. The fair has been held for eight years in celebration of International Youth Day on August 12th.

A section of the convention hall, organized by the Ministry of Health of El Salvador, was dedicated solely to health organizations. National institutions, NGOs, universities and other entities that offer health services participated by providing free medical consultations, advice on HIV, personal hygiene, dental care, psycho-social support, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, nutritional counseling and other health related services. The motto for this year's Juventour was "Activate con todo," or "Give it all you can."

Following this motto, MCDI staff and Red Cross volunteers encouraged youth to be part of their own solution against the Zika virus. For two days, engaged and optimistic volunteers shared their knowledge related to Zika transmission, prevention, the ELITA (Eliminar, Limpiar, Tapar y Voltear) method to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, the associated risks of Zika, and the life cycle of a mosquito.

Delivering key messages on Zika prevention to children and adolescents in an engaging and dynamic way was challenging. Grabbing their attention to learn about Zika and the potential risks to their health and that of their communities was our goal. In order to draw visitors to our message, ZICORE used a fun mosquito costume and a "spin the wheel" game to inspire a call to action for children and teenagers who came to the booth.

Youth, adults, and even doctors and other health staff from different organizations played the game to learn about their role in preventing Zika in their communities. The importance of the ELITA method ("Eliminar" - eliminate, "Limpiar" - clean, "Tapar" - cover and "Voltear" - turn water containers upside down) was our key message to this energetic audience. Players asked questions about Zika, shared their experiences with the virus, clarified doubts and proposed ideas on how to involve youth in communities or school activities to raise awareness. We were surprised to meet a very creative teen who turned a formal message on Zika into a rhythmic and catchy rap! Photos with the ZICORE mosquito who handed out educational materials were also popular with participants.

The success of ZICORE has been a result of close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Youth and Adolescent Health Department staff, Red Cross volunteers and technical colleagues who are the main facilitators of these messages in the communities. MCDI office staff facilitated event preparations and worked at the booth. The success of this event exemplifies how thinking creatively to reach our target population in a context specific manner can give our messages the power to change behavior in our communities.

This blog is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of MCDI and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.



Salvadoran Red Cross volunteers attend ZICORE's booth in the health exhibition hall


Salvadoran Red Cross volunteers deliver key message on Zika to youth through a wheel-spinning game




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