The government is working with international agencies to increase the percentage of children treated for diarrhea with Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc 15 times over in the next five years.
Diarrhea, one of the most preventable causes of infant death, kills 2, 25, 000 children under the age of five in India every year, which accounts for 30% children deaths.
Currently, less than 2% of children with diarrhea are treated with both ORS and Zinc, and the aim is to bring it up to 30 per cent.
“We have chosen three high-burden states- Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, to begin with and aim at saving approximately 150,000 children’s lives between 2013-2017 that translates to roughly 50,000 children annually,” said Louis-Georges Arsenault, representative, UNICEF, India Country office.
The government of India in collaboration with UNCEF Canada and Teck Resources Limited (“Teck”) officially launched a $5 million program on Wednesday under the Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH).
“The contribution is part of our global citizenship programme that supports NGOs and development agencies to strengthen the healthcare delivery system. Being the largest producers of zinc, it makes sense to help save lives by preventing diarrhea,” said Dough H. Horswill, senior vice president, Teck Resources Limited.
The cost of delivering ORS-Zinc combo is about Rs. 20 per child. The agencies will be making use of the existing frontline government healthcare workers to distribute the doses.
“There is need to increase awareness and knowledge among healthcare workers, including paediatricians who are our point of contact with the target group. We also plan to have a monitoring mechanism in place because just having the product is not enough, it needs to reach the needy,” said David Morley, president and CEO, UNICEF Canada.