URC to Strengthen MNCH and FP/RH Services in Zika-affected Countries in Latin America and Caribbean

URC is pleased to announce the award of a two-year extension to the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) cooperative agreement. Under the terms of the extension, the USAID ASSIST Project will operate until September 29, 2019 and will focus on strengthening maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) and family planning/reproductive health services in Zika-affected countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the extension period, ASSIST will apply quality improvement methods to health systems strengthening efforts in Zika-affected countries, including the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and two or three additional countries. Efforts will seek to develop the capacity of host country service delivery organizations to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, client-centeredness, safety, accessibility, and equity of Zika-related health services.

Dr. M. Rashad Massoud, Director of ASSIST and Chief Medical and Quality Officer / Senior Vice President of URC, says: "We are excited to have the opportunity to tackle Zika – a global health emergency – under the USAID ASSIST Project. We will apply improvement science to deliver the best health outcomes and thereby strengthen health systems along the continuum of maternal and early newborn care."

ASSIST’s Zika work builds on previous URC work to revise Zika-related clinical guidelines, train healthcare providers on counseling skills, initiate a quality improvement program for Zika-related clinical processes, and build a Zika clinical community of practice, working in close coordination with other implementing partners working on issues related to Zika.

During the extension period, ASSIST will continue to carry out functions related to research and evaluation, knowledge management, and global technical leadership not only as related to previous ASSIST work, but also for new Zika activities to institutionalize the use of improvement methods for stronger health systems.

From 2013 to 2017, ASSIST operated in 38 countries, supporting quality improvement efforts for HIV and AIDS, MNCH, malaria, tuberculosis, orphans and vulnerable children, and non-communicable disease services at both facility and community levels.


A 9-month-old girl, born with microcephaly as a result of a Zika infection during her mother's pregnancy, receives treatment at Villa Nueva Medical Center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. © 2017 Brendan Bannon/USAID, Courtesy of Photoshare
November 07, 2017