ADDIS ABABA – Canadian partners the Micronutrient Initiative, the Government of Canada and private sector partner Teck launched a major project with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health today that will save young lives from diarrhoea, a condition that can be deadly if untreated.
Each year, more than 750,000 children under the age of five die from complications associated with diarrhoea, including 27,000 in Ethiopia. Zinc is an essential micronutrient that can prevent and treat diarrhoea, yet two billion people around the world do not get enough zinc through their diets.
The Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH) project in Ethiopia represents a $3.5 million investment, as part of a $20 million global ZACH commitment from CIDA, Teck and MI to scale up zinc programming in at least five countries.
The project in Ethiopia is focused on increasing awareness of diarrhoea as a serious childhood illness, as well as increasing the demand for zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) as the treatment of choice for childhood diarrhoea.
ZACH Ethiopia will scale up the use of zinc supplementation and oral rehydration salts (ORS) to treat diarrhoea across the country, with the goal of treating 6.5 million cases by 2015.
This simple solution, that costs as little as 50 cents per treatment, reduces the severity of diarrhoea and can save lives. The project is being implemented in close collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and local partners as part of a national strategy to reduce the burden of this disease.
While diarrhoea is a leading cause of illness and death in the country, many families don’t seek treatment for the disease or are using ineffective ways of treating it.
The ZACH project will concentrate on social marketing efforts to increase the number of caregivers who seek treatment for diarrhoea are using zinc and ORS, ask for zinc and ORS, and ensure it’s used properly; working with decision-makers to make sure diarrhoea treatment policy matches practice in the public health system; and bundling of zinc and ORS together for easier distribution across the country.
Diarrhoea is one of the diseases targeted in Ethiopia’s National Child Survival Strategy, and the ZACH project will support this strategy. The project aims to make the management of childhood diarrhoea a key part of Ethiopia’s efforts to reduce child mortality.
“The ZACH partnership is an excellent example of Canadian innovation working to save children’s lives,” said the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation. “I congratulate the Government of Ethiopia in supporting ZACH and ensuring the scale-up of zinc to save children’s lives in 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,” said Doug Horswill, Senior Vice President at Teck. “Through this partnership with the Micronutrient Initiative, the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia, we will improve local awareness about zinc deficiency, enhance distribution systems and, ultimately, save children’s lives.”
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 health system as a whole. Treatment will be monitored to track progress on the project.
“This project will help support the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr. Abdulaziz Adish, Deputy Regional Director for the Micronutrient Initiative in Africa. “We will prove how effective zinc and ORS is in treating diarrhoea and saving children’s lives, contributing to the national efforts to reach MDG 4.”
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 be a global leader in advancing integrated, innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies through advocacy, technical and programmatic support, in collaboration 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 health, growth and development and women´s and newborn survival and 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. Our 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 & 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 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.
Daniel Bezalel Richardsen
Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)