Caring for children with Congenital Zika Syndrome: The unmet needs of mothers in Southern Colombia

Glob Public Health. 2021 Oct 11;1-12. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2021.1987500. Online ahead of print.


ABSTRACTIn Latin America, the Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic of 2015-2016 resulted in children being born with a spectrum of neurological disorders called Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS). Women are the primary caregivers of those children. The objective of the study was to identify the perceived needs of women to care for their children with CZS in Southern Colombia. In 2019, a qualitative ethnographic study was conducted in southern Colombia, including 21 women belonging to a self-managed support group and who had prenatal ZIKV between 2015 and 2016 and, as a consequence, their children were born with CZS. Three discussion groups and six semi-structured interviews were conducted and analyzed through qualitative content analysis. Three main perceived needs to care for their children were identified: knowledge and skills to provide the complex care their children require and for which they did not feel prepared, economic and social support. This study showed that women face unmet needs when caring for their children with CZS, especially regarding social support. Therefore, it is urgent to generate public policies and intervention strategies for professionals to support these women in order to meet not only the needs of their children but also their own.

Keywords: Colombia; Women; Zika virus; caregivers; needs assessment; qualitative research.