The Art of Awareness

ZAP Haiti Promotes Zika Prevention through Poetry and Painting

Artist Muller Joseph Herold encourages community members to clean up their environments to prevent mosquito breeding sites through his mural painting.

In 2016, the Zika virus broke out across Latin America and the Caribbean. Spread by the Aedes ageypti mosquito, the Zika virus can result in serious illnesses, such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. In Haiti, the Ministry of Public Health and Population reported 10 cases of microcephaly in the country’s Northern Department in 2016. In response to the public health emergency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Zika AIRS Project (ZAP) to help Latin American and Caribbean countries to plan, implement, and monitor and evaluate vector control activities. With no vaccine available for Zika and other arboviruses, vector control remains the most important tool for control and prevention.

The Aedes aegypti can breed in large or small amounts of water, including something as minuscule as a bottle cap or a piece of plastic. Eliminating places where mosquitoes can breed is essential to reducing the spread of the disease. ZAP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Acul-du-Nord District, in the town of Plaine du Nord, held a painting and poetry competition to encourage the creation of powerful and meaningful messages on vector-borne diseases that promote positive community action to clean up their communities. ZAP promoted the contest in schools, community and government meetings and through public community messages.

Artist Muller Joseph Herold, a former vector control technician who won the contest, has had a positive impact on his community. A large polluted canal known as Royan Canal in Royan Quarter of Basse Plaine communal section of Plaine du Nord, was a huge breeding site for mosquitoes. Trash was so thick in the canal that water was prevented from flowing freely. In response to Herold’s win, the community embraced his message with pride, cleaning up the canal. Since the launch of the contest in July 2017, the canal has remained clean. After winning, Herold also created a painting of a mosquito that was turned into a sticker that is used by ZAP to mark households that have been visited by the project.

Dr. Ernst Robert Jasmin, Director of Northern Department Health Division, said, “These kind of activities can lead to great changes within the community, if they are continuously implemented, on a regular basis. The community knows well the project, and the contest has improved behavior change among beneficiaries.”

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