In an outbreak communities are the frontline in the fight to stopping the spread of disease. However, with new diseases now frequently emerging due to impacts of urbanisation, climate change and increasingly mobile global populations, it is difficult for people to keep up with the pace of new information and know what to do to protect themselves. Between June and October 2018 thirteen Caribbean Red Cross National Societies completed large scale efforts to find out more about what communities know, how they think about, and what they do to prevent Zika.

“In order to help people combat the threat of this disease now and in the future, we need to understand what they already know about it how they have been already working to prevent it. We want to tackle people`s misconceptions about the virus and help them to collectively protect their communities and support those people who may be affected.” said Nasir Khan, Caribbean Zika Prevention and Response Project manager for IFRC.

The Caribbean region is no stranger to viruses transmitted by mosquitoes, with Dengue and Chikungunya, spread by the same Aedes mosquito, now commonplace in the region. However, Zika has another dimension to it with the risks of congenital Zika syndrome (including microcephaly) and the fact that it can also be sexually transmitted. To find out more about what people knew, how they understood and what practices they engaged in to prevent Zika a Knowledge Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey was carried out in 13 countries that are part of IFRC’s Caribbean Zika Prevention and Response Project supported by USAID.

In total 1667 surveys were collected across English speaking countries in the Caribbean and Suriname. Carrying out data collection from households at this scale can be a challenge, especially when it comes to making sure all data is captured and made quickly available for analysis. To meet this challenge Caribbean National Societies were supported with training and support to use Open Data Kit (ODK) an open source tool that is used widely in humanitarian organizations to collect field data.

Results of the KAP survey showed that people were concerned about Zika and while most knew it was caused by a mosquito, few were aware that it could also be sexually transmitted. Some people were engaged in actions that might help mosquitoes stop breeding but are likely to need more support to scale up actions to protect the wider community.

A great strength of the Red Cross is our ability to stand alongside our communities, to hear and understand what is going on at the ground level. The information we get from listening to community voices is invaluable to us and other partners in the Caribbean region in addressing Zika and the health challenges of the future.” explained Erin Law, Global Zika Advisor for IFRC.

The Knowledge Attitudes and Practices Survey on Zika in the Caribbean was conducted by Red Cross National Societies in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. Technical support was provided by the IFRC Country Cluster for the English-speaking Caribbean and Suriname, IFRC Innovation Team in the Americas Regional Office and the Caribbean Disaster Risk Management (CADRIM) Reference Centre in Barbados.

Read the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Survey Report

Download the pdf Caribbean Red Cross Success Story