Zika: Lessons Learned after 1 Year’s Response

Over the course of the past program year (October 2016-September 2017), mPowering was able to join the Zika Response Team within USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Program. As part of mPowering’s involvement, a Zika-specific domain was launched on the ORB platform, the entire ORB site was translated into Spanish, and over 80 quality-assured, mobile-ready, Zika-related health worker training materials were curated on ORB. This collaboration also awarded mPowering the opportunity to establish new networks and build on existing partnerships for increased impact and reach.

Lesson 1: Sharing Helps Everyone

The past year of activities have demonstrated the efficiency of online resource sharing. The Zika Communications Network has supported this point by establishing itself as a central hub for any and all Zika-related tools and materials. By hosting a variety of resources focused toward community engagement, health worker training, policymakers, vector control and sexual transmission in a wide variety of formats such as fact sheets, videos, posters, pamphlets and others; the ZCN provides a platform for content creators and content seekers to meet across organizational lines.

Photo Credit: Life News

ORB shares this focus on content sharing, but differs from the ZCN in that ORB curates health worker training materials that are in formats usable on a mobile device such as a laptop, tablet or smart phone. ORB also requires that all resources be open-source through public domain or Creative Commons licensing in order for users to be able to download resource files for use offline. This is especially important when health workers download a resource then travel to an area without cellular connectivity or Wi-Fi. An example could be if a health worker downloaded Pathfinder’s Cue Cards for Counseling Adolescents on Contraception then used their smart phone or tablet to show them to young people in a rural community outside of cellular network.

ORB and the ZCN continuously conduct cross-site scans to ensure applicable resources are shared on each platform.

Lesson 2: Quality is Possible in Emergencies

One challenge faced during the first year was the ever-changing accuracy of technical evidence and the impact this had on materials development. Content creators feared that sharing tools and resources outside of their organization’s programs could jeopardize the quality of materials if technical content was to change as a result of new findings. This fear proved to be a hurdle in the path toward open resource sharing. mPowering and MCSP’s Zika Response Team found that linking online resources to their original source website as well as timestamping resources and including disclaimers regarding the fast-paced updating of Zika technical findings helped to reinforce quality standards and safety in sharing.

Lesson 3: Keep Sharing!

As mPowering continues to work with MCSP’s Zika Response Team, heading into Year 2, there is still a need for advocacy of open-source sharing. We encourage content creators to share their resources on platforms like ORB and the ZCN. If organizational hurdles prevent sharing on external sites, we encourage creators to share announcements of resources through networks like HipNet, HIFA, the Global Digital Health Network, the Zika Communications Network and others for dissemination on listservs and blogs.

If you are creating materials for Zika response and would like to share on ORB, find our Resource Guidelines here: http://health-orb.org/resource/guidelines/.