On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus and associated health threats an international public health emergency. The virus, spread primarily through mosquito bites, is linked to serious birth defects in the babies of mothers who were infected while pregnant. WHO now considers Zika to be an ongoing health threat requiring intense action. In response, the global innovator community is mobilizing to develop novel solutions that can be used to combat the current Zika outbreak and strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks. USAID is supporting the development, testing, and scale up of 26 of these groundbreaking ideas that can mitigate Zika and protect us against future and infectious disease threats.


The recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika demonstrate the need for new and improved tools to fight infectious diseases. Episode one provides the context around current and future efforts in the prevention of and response to infectious disease outbreaks. Episodes two and three detail how USAID identifies and invests in the most promising ideas, and applies market-oriented approaches to reduce the time it takes to transform ideas in a lab to impact on the ground.