Messaging Group

Following training in the field and piloting of instruments carried out in São Paulo last February, the fieldwork proper of the ZikaPLAN Messaging group project has now begun in Jundiaí, 60 km north of São Paulo, and in Salvador, capital of Bahia State.

The specific objective of this project is to better understand the perceptions of and reactions to Zika messages in these two socio-economically and epidemiologically distinct regions of Brazil. Through this, the group aims to develop Zika messages that are properly understood; that adequately address population concerns about the disease and can be acted upon with confidence, in particular by women of reproductive age (defined here as age 18-45 years). Data are being collected from women of reproductive age, male partners, health care providers and message developers. 

The implementing partners working on this project locally are Eduardo Massad, Professor and Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical Ethics and Occupational Medicine, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo; and Jorge Iriart, Associate Professor in Medical Anthropology, Institute of Public Health, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is also involved and will be conducting parallel work in their Colombian cohort.

A validation workshop is planned for September 12-15, 2017, in Salvador, at which the findings will be finalized. Preliminary results will be presented at a conference coordinated by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health: 'Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses - Science for preparedness and response in the Mediterranean region' in Barcelona on May 23-24, 2017.

Given that the incidence of Zika has greatly reduced since the original study was designed, the Messaging Group expects that these findings could be of relevance in the event of an upsurge in the number of cases.

Moreover, to enable the continuation of this work (and specifically to address the mental health and social support needs of Brazilian households living with children suffering from congenital Zika syndrome), co-funding is currently being sought from Umeå University Medical Faculty, to conduct a three-year comparative, qualitative cohort study in the same two sites, using the same study team.