Zinc Identified as Priority Life-Saving Commodity by UN: Micronutrient Initiative Welcomes High-Level Commitment to Ending Deaths from Diarrhoea

A young Guatemalan boy receives a packet of zinc tablets. MI worked with the Government of Guatemala on a pilot project to scale up the use of zinc and ORS to treat diarrhoea that was so successful that it was quickly adopted as a national program.

A young Guatemalan boy receives a packet of zinc tablets. MI worked with the Government of Guatemala on a pilot project to scale up the use of zinc and ORS to treat diarrhoea that was so successful that it was quickly adopted as a national program.

OTTAWA – The new High-Level Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children has identified zinc as one of the health supplies that could save the lives of millions of women and children every year. A new Commission, co-chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, will work to improve access to essential but overlooked supplies.

Thousands of children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoeal disease. Using zinc to treat diarrhoea, along with oral rehydration salts (ORS), not only helps children get better faster, it can even save their lives. It also prolongs the time between episodes, giving young bodies more time to recover. The Commission cites research showing that increasing coverage of proven inexpensive interventions, such as ORS and zinc for diarrhoea and antibiotics for pneumonia, can reduce childhood deaths from these two most common illnesses by more than 70 percent.

“We welcome this commitment from the highest levels of the UN, governments, the research sector and development agencies to prioritize these life-saving but underused interventions,” says Venkatesh Mannar, President of the Micronutrient Initiative. “We know that zinc and ORS could save millions of lives and the Micronutrient Initiative has been working with governments and partners to scale-up its use to treat diarrhoeal disease. High-level advocacy from the commission to undertake such action as strengthening local production capacity and innovation and strengthening regulatory frameworks will certainly help us expand our programs more quickly. This could kick-start a new revolution in child and maternal survival!”

More about the Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children.

More about MI´s work in zinc: