Zinc Alliance for Child Health Funds $1.5 Million Project in India

IMG_5359AHMEDABAD, INDIA – Today, Canadian partners in the Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH) Teck, the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) and the Government of Canada — announced $1.5 million in funding to expand a childhood diarrhoea treatment program in the Indian state of Gujarat.

This funding will support the State Government to scale up the program to all 26 districts in Gujarat and train an additional 97,000 health care workers on the proper treatment of diarrhoea using zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS).

No life-threatening childhood illness affects more children than diarrhoeal disease. In India, approximately 230,000 children die annually as a result of dehydration, weakened immunity or malnutrition associated with diarrhoea. Using zinc, along with ORS, to treat diarrhoea not only strengthens the immune system to accelerate recovery, but can save lives.

“The ZACH partnership is committed to reducing child mortality by accelerating the use of zinc supplements and ORS to treat diarrhoea, one of the most common killers of children in India,” said M.G. Venkatesh Mannar, President of the Micronutrient Initiative. “We are pleased to support the State of Gujarat’s Diarrhoea Alleviation through Zinc and ORS Therapy (DATZ) project that aims to improve the chances of survival for their children.”

The DATZ project currently operates in six districts of Gujarat and has already reached 270,000 children. ZACH, a public-private-civil society alliance, will provide funding for an additional 20 districts, reaching 670,000 children by March of 2016. The project builds on the success of ZACH’s current zinc projects in Africa that have helped treat over five million children since its launch in 2011.

“I congratulate the Government of India and the State Government of Gujarat in their efforts to save and improve the lives of India’s children,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie. “Canada is focused on improving the lives of children and youth around the world because the world’s future depends on their health and well-being. ZACH, with support from Canada’s Muskoka Initiative, works to scale up high impact and cost-effective health solutions.  After the successful launch of projects in countries throughout Africa, the Government of Canada is pleased to see the expansion of ZACH in India.”

“As one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, Teck is committed to addressing the problem of global zinc deficiency,” said Teck Senior Vice President Doug Horswill.  “Since 2011, nearly 270,000 children have benefitted from zinc and ORS supplied by the Gujarat government health service delivery system. This new ZACH funding will help expand an already successful diarrhoea treatment project, increasing access to this life-saving treatment for the 1.38 million children under the age of five in Gujarat.”

MI’s efforts in Gujarat focus on training and supervising health workers and caregivers, as well as supporting the development of social marketing materials to increase awareness of zinc and ORS as an effective diarrhoea treatment.

ZACH funding will also support the development of supportive supervision of front-line health workers. This includes personalized one-on-one exercises that reinforce skills development through meetings, joint field visits, reviews and refresher training.