Setting the stage for zinc treatment in Nigeria

nigeria-zinc-storyMore children die in sub-Saharan Africa on a per capita basis than any other region in the world, many of them from treatable diseases such as those causing diarrhoea. 

Nigeria has one of the highest child mortality rates on the continent. MI is working to help Nigeria develop effective ways of introducing the use of zinc supplements, as well as oral rehydration, for treating children with diarrhoea, in the hope of preventing some of those child deaths.

For the past year, MI has been preparing for a pilot distribution of zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) in Osun State during the next Child Health Week.

Working with the State Ministry of Health and Food Basket Foundation International (FBFI), this operational research will look at the scope for using the well-attended Child Health Weeks to provide caregivers with take-home zinc supplements, as well as ORS, and information on how to use them both when treating future episodes of diarrhoea.

The aim is to compare the results with providing zinc, ORS and counselling when a caregiver brings a child with diarrhoea to a health post. Both approaches aim to encourage caregivers to seek out zinc supplements and ORS to treat later episodes.

MI is hopeful that a successful trial in this state will help build a sound basis for further expansion of the therapeutic use of zinc across Nigeria.