Societies can overcome these educational gaps, they suggest, through strategic partnerships with groups in Zika-affected areas. Such partnerships could also foster enhance “peer-to-peer learning opportunities,” empowering providers in regions lacking sufficient medical personnel (eg, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) by providing them with the knowledge necessary to interpret Zika test results and implement the latest diagnostic criteria. One successful example of this is Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Zika, a “telementoring” platform established by the AAP and the US Department of Health and Human Services that links community providers to each other and to academic specialists.
“Many rural counties in Texas do not have convenient access to physicians or obstetricians, so engaging a wide network of primary care providers is crucial in treating Zika in these areas that have seen active transmission, but may not have the knowledge or resources to screen or refer patients,” Dr. Morain said in the Baylor release. “Zika is a relatively new epidemic, but this challenge of translating clinical recommendations is not. There is such a crucial need to not only conduct rapid clinical and scientific research but also to circulate and implement these findings in the clinic… We need not only to learn, but also to do.”
Of course, as helpful as the commentary authors’ recommendations could be in improving outbreak response, they may not be sufficient to overcome another notable Zika-related delay—that being Congress’ lateness
in providing necessary federal funding for dealing with the disease.
Then again, to use another cliché, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition.
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