While the Zika virus outbreak has waned in the Caribbean and Latin America, scientists are certain the disease will return. With the transition to a more sustained response, efforts are focused on strengthening newborn and well-child care systems so they can cope with future emergencies and on improving care and support of children and families affected by the virus. Communities must be prepared.
In Jamaica, the USAID-funded Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project collaborates with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) to strengthen newborn and well-child care systems so they can cope with future emergencies and improve care and support of children and families affected by the virus. As per MOHW guidelines, the Project works with health personnel on the neurodevelopmental surveillance of infants and young children in well-child clinics, making referrals to care and support services.
To support these efforts, ASSIST Jamaica is donating 120 neurodevelopmental surveillance kits to 60 health facilities (two per site). Each kit contains sensory stimulation toys and books to be used by nurses to conduct neurodevelopmental surveillance during well-child clinics.
Charlene Coore-Desai, URC Chief of Party for the USAID ASSIST Project in Jamaica applauds the dedication and commitment of the URC staff saying the team in Jamaica “has been working closely with the MOHW to respond to concerns about the ability of health care providers to adequately track developmental milestones during busy well-child clinics.”
Using updated neurodevelopmental surveillance tools designed under the ASSIST Project, the team in Jamaica identified items contained in the kits as key to strengthening the capacity of health care providers to assess whether a child has achieved an important developmental milestone, especially when caregivers are uncertain or have limited opportunities to observe the milestones themselves. Coore-Desai congratulates the home office team for sourcing and preparing the shipment in record time in support of their colleagues in Jamaica.
According to Coore-Desai, “the materials will be instrumental in providing health care providers with resources to improve neurodevelopmental surveillance at the clinic level and our ability to identify children with suspected developmental delays and get them the care and support they and their families need.”