OUAGADOUGOU Canadian partners the Micronutrient Initiative, the Government of Canada and private sector partner Teck launched a major project with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health today that will save young lives from diarrhea, a condition that can be deadly if untreated.
Each year, more than one million children under the age of five die from complications associated with diarrhea, including 22,000 children in Burkina Faso. Zinc is an essential micronutrient that can prevent and treat diarrhea, yet two billion people around the world do not get enough zinc through their diets.
The Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH) project in Burkina Faso will scale up the use of zinc supplementation and oral rehydration salts (ORS) to treat childhood diarrhea across the country. This simple solution, that costs as little as 85 cents per treatment in this country, reduces the severity of diarrhea, prevents future episodes and can save lives.
The project will aim to treat more than 7 million cases of diarrhea in children under the age of five over the next three years and in the process train health care workers and caregivers on the proper treatment of diarrhoea with zinc and ORS.
The project will support Burkina Faso´s national plan to strengthen the management of childhood diarrhoea using zinc and ORS within the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses framework. It will contribute to the country´s overall efforts to reduce child mortality rates and work toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4: Reducing Child Mortality.
“ZACH is an example of Canadian innovation addressing global health issues to help save children's lives," said the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation. "I am pleased that the Government of Burkino Faso is partnering with ZACH to scale-up the life saving use of zinc for their country."
This project is recognized as a high impact solution that supports Canada´s Maternal and Under-five Child Health objectives.
“As one of the world´s largest producers of zinc, we have a lot of knowledge about zinc and understand the importance of zinc and health,” says Doug Horswill, Senior Vice President at Teck. “Through this partnership with the Micronutrient Initiative, the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Health in Burkina Faso we will improve local awareness about zinc deficiency, enhance distribution systems and ultimately save children´s lives.”
Project components include behaviour change communication such as increasing knowledge and awareness so that more caregivers, health practitioners and community members recognize of the importance of treating diarrhea with zinc and ORS. The project also aims to make the management of childhood diarrhea a key part of reducing of child mortality. ZACH will work with all levels of government to help ensure the availability of supplies and treatment that is affordable for families, communities and the wider health system. Treatment will be monitored to track progress on the project.
“With the Government of Burkina Faso´s clear commitment to reducing child deaths, launching a ZACH project in this country was a natural choice,” says John McCullough, Regional Director for the Micronutrient Initiative in Africa. “We will prove how effective zinc and ORS is in treating diarrhea and saving children´s lives. We are proud to work with the Government of Canada and Teck on this initiative to improve the health of children and save lives.”
“Child health is an ongoing concern and priority for Burkina Faso; we have even created a directorate within my department to promote the health of the child,” says the Honourable Léné Sebgo, the Minister of Health in Burkina Faso. “I welcome the partnership with ZACH and I thank ZACH for having chosen Burkina Faso as one of its project countries. I am confident that this partnership will strengthen our existing efforts. I wish to express my appreciation to our partners, while reassuring them of our daily commitment of overcoming the challenges facing children´s health.”
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About the Micronutrient Initiative
The Micronutrient Initiative is an Ottawa-based, international not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that the world's most vulnerable especially women and children in developing countries get the vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive through supplementation and food fortification programs. Its mission is to develop, implement and monitor innovative, cost effective and sustainable solutions for hidden hunger, in partnership with others. With Canadian support, the organization is saving and improving the lives of 500 million people annually in more than 70 countries with its child survival, child development and women´s health programs.
Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with major business units focused on copper, steelmaking coal, zinc and energy. The pursuit of sustainability guides Teck´s approach to business. Teck is building partnerships and capacity to confront sustainability challenges within the regions in which we operate and at the global level. As one of the world´s largest producers of zinc, Teck is committed to raising awareness about, and helping solve the global health issue of zinc deficiency. Teck´s Zinc & Health program includes partnerships with UNICEF, Free The Children, the Micronutrient Initiative, the Government of Canada and other organizations. To learn more about Teck´s Zinc and Health program visit www.zincsaveslives.com. Teck is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, and its shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols TCK.A and TCK.B and the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TCK.
About the Canadian International Development Agency
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is Canada's lead agency for development assistance. CIDA's aim is to manage Canada's support and resources effectively and accountably to achieve meaningful, sustainable results. It also engages in policy development in Canada and internationally, enabling Canada's effort to realize its development objectives.