Joelys de Leon has volunteered with the Panamanian Red Cross for over 6 years. Her latest experience has been in Zika prevention, working with the Garzas de Pacora community to implement the Community-based Monitoring and Surveillance (CBMS) Protocol.
At first, the work on the ground was a little bit challenging. The community was apprehensive, but the volunteers and Red Cross staff have been able to create close ties with community members. “Long-term awareness building is what has really made a difference in our relationship with the community. After just 4 visits, we see that people are more organized, the area around their homes is cleaner and they have more knowledge about Zika.” – she notes.
The CBMS protocol is a tool for communities to take ownership and be empowered in community-based surveillance. It’s also a way to integrate the Zika response between the community, public authorities and other organizations, such as the Red Cross.