Key Results & Achievements

In addition to developing the basic communication tools to promote the ZikaPLAN initiative, the group developed communication strategies and platforms to reach key ZikaPLAN stakeholders. A key aim was also to ensure that the first results of research activities were made available to the scientific community and healthcare stakeholders.

“How can we make messages that are meaningful and actionable? We are trying to address this issue and thereby hopefully contribute to future rounds of messaging for Zika in Brazil by asking women of reproductive age about their problems and concerns.

Prof. John Kinsman, Umeå University

Development and implementation of communication strategies and platforms

All the ZikaPLAN publications in peer review journals are added to the ZikaPLAN website and highlighted on Twitter. The web pages describing the Work Packages were enhanced by the addition of sections describing research results and achievements.

13 news articles were posted on the ZikaPLAN website during the period, presenting significant achievements and meetings. As part of ZIKA COLLAB, the Mérieux Foundation Communication team participated in monthly coordination calls. WP12 also contributed to the editorial and provided 9 articles and 15 publications for 3 cross-consortia newsletters, which were issued in July and December 2018 and in May 2019.

For the 2018 annual ZikaPLAN consortium meeting, hosted by LSHTM in London, a journalist from a leading UK news outlet, The Daily Telegraph, was invited to provide exclusive coverage of the meeting. This resulted in an article “World must prepare for return of Zika, scientists warn”, published in The Daily Telegraph on September 13, 2018. Six ZikaPLAN scientists were also interviewed for video recordings presenting preliminary research results.

Supporting Work Package communication projects

WP12 supported two important projects conducted by WP8 to improve birth defect surveillance. First, a logo and graphic design guidelines were developed, and photo illustrations provided for the new Global Birth Defects website. Use of colours and similar design elements established a visual link with ZikaPLAN and common “branding”.

WP12 worked with the UOXF team in charge of The Global Health Network, which hosts the site, on the technical aspects of development. It helped WP8 structure and integrate the content for the site, which was launched in March 2019.

WP12 also provided design elements, illustrations and guidance for the creation of an application for the description and coding of birth defects, launched in October 2019.

Both the new Global Birth Defects website and app are sustainable tools that will continue to be used and feature the ZikaPLAN branding long after the end of the ZikaPLAN consortium.

Qualitative Societal Research

In order to assess the perceptions of and reactions to Zika messaging in Brazil, a comparative qualitative study was conducted in two cities: Jundiaí and Salvador. Focus group discussions were carried out with low, middle and high-income women of reproductive age. In-depth interviews were conducted in lower and mid-level income neighborhoods with male partners of women of reproductive age.  In addition, health professionals and also religious leaders were interviewed.

Analysis in these communities showed that for Aedes mosquito control there was an urgent need for the municipal authorities to take responsibility for control activities, and efforts to build stronger social capital and cohesion in the community were required. Future Aedes-related outbreaks must be met with more easily understood and more actionable messages than those used in previous events.

Recommendations were developed, therefore, on the most effective communication platforms, content and messages about Zika towards the general public, and in particular, women of reproductive age.

These results were shared with local and international healthcare professionals at the 2018 Brazilian Congress of Public Health, Rio de Janeiro during a presentation titled: “Perceptions and knowledge on abortion in the context of the Zika virus in the city of Salvador”.

Participating Organisations

Group leader: Koren Wolman-Tardy, Mérieux Foundation

  • Umeå University
  • All ZikaPLAN consortium members