LUCKNOW, India, 4 December 2013 - UNICEF and Teck Resources Limited (“Teck”) launched today in the state of Uttar Pradesh a $5 million programme that will save over 150,000 children’s lives in India. Under the initiative Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH), it aims to scale up the use of zinc supplementation and oral rehydration salts (ORS) to treat diarrhea while strengthening health care systems across India.
More children under the age of five die in India than anywhere else in the world. One of the leading causes of these deaths is diarrhoea. Currently, only 2 percent of Indian children have access to zinc and ORS, a cost effective and proven life-saving diarrhea treatment. A 10-day course of zinc tablets costs only 30 cents while a sachet of ORS costs 10 cents.
The partnership will save 150,000 children’s lives over the course of the five year programme, in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh alone – three states with the highest burden of childhood diarrhoea in India through the provision of zinc and ORS.
Today saw the launch of the Uttar Pradesh phase of the programme. After meeting with Indian government officials and UNICEF staff on the ground, Doug Horswill, Senior Vice President at Teck, and David Morley, CEO and President of UNICEF Canada, visited health centres in the state to view the distribution of zinc and ORS, and spoke with mothers who will no longer have to fear that their children’s lives could be taken by diarrhea.
“This new initiative exemplifies the considerable contributions corporate partnerships can make towards improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children. UNICEF’s partnership with Teck in India will provide strategic investments in proven interventions,” says UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO, David Morley. “UNICEF first partnered with Teck in Nepal and Peru through the International Zinc Association and we are pleased to be strengthening this partnership.”
The programme also aims to educate health workers and communities while strengthening the local supply chain to ensure zinc and ORS are accessible and that achievements made over the next five years are sustainable in the long term.
“In India, the number of children dying from diarrhoea — an illness that can be treated with zinc and ORS — is particularly dire,” says Doug Horswill, Senior Vice President at Teck. “As one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, we have the ability and knowledge to help address this critical children’s health issue.”
The programme also contributes to the commitment of the Government of India to reduce child deaths through the Call to Action for Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. The call to action was co-led by the governments of India, Ethiopia and the U.S. with UNICEF’s support. It is working to mobilize political leadership to end preventable child deaths through innovative and proven strategies worldwide.