February 28, 2019

The newly launched Global Birth Defects website has been funded by ZikaPLAN. We are therefore happy to mark World Birth Defects Day by highlighting actions to address birth defects caused by the Zika virus. Today, we throw the spotlight on the outreach activities of the Zika Engagement and Support Team (ZEST).

Global Birth Defects celebrates the efforts of the outreach workers and therapists, researchers, parents, children and music makers in Brazil who have been busy in workshops. These public engagement events pull the community together, raise awareness of congenital Zika syndrome, and provide parents with education and inspiration. Watch this video to see how music brings out the inherent creativity and spiritual energy present in children affected by congenital Zika syndrome as well as how music provides parents with new inspiration for how to support their child’s quality of life.

Since August 2017, ZEST—a collaboration between the Institute of Infection and Global Health (IGH) at the University of Liverpool, the Fiocruz Institute in Brazil and the local Brazilian charities of Saúde Criança and União de Mães de Anjos—has  been working with families affected by congenital Zika syndrome.

ZEST delivers workshops that address health and social inclusion issues, provides information on Zika diagnostic testing, and provides advice to families on managing problems associated with congenital Zika syndrome. Health professionals such as physiotherapists, speech and language specialists, nutritionists, music and art therapists deliver these workshops.

Liverpool and Fiocruz are currently developing additional online resources and programmes to support the families and children affected by congenital Zika syndrome, expanding the project and aiming to make information and advice more accessible for those who really need it. For more information about ZEST’s work, contact Suzannah Lant or visit https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/infection-and-global-health/public-engagement/zika-engagement/.

For more information about the Zika virus and birth defects, see our public health tools available in our resource inventory.