International Zinc Assoziation (IZA) teams up with UNICEF to save children’s lives
In January 2010, the Zinc Saves Kids initiative was launched by the International Zinc Association (IZA) in support of UNICEF. The overall objective is to increase the awareness of the global zinc deficiency issue and to raise funds to help support zinc-containing micronutrient programmes for treatment and prevention of diarrhoea which improves the survival, growth and development of undernourished children.
Zinc deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in young children. UNICEF estimates that 450,000 children are at risk of dying every year due to zinc deficiency. A 14-day course of 20 mg zinc per day combined with oral rehydration salts compensating the fluid loss is sufficient to treat acute diarrhoea (a leading cause of child fatality) and costs US$ 0.50 per child.
The duration of the Zinc Saves Kids programme is three years, during which a minimum of US$ 3 million will be raised by the zinc industry to support UNICEF’s zinc-containing micronutrient programmes in Nepal and Peru. More than 50% of Nepalese children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition and growth retardation, the latter being a proxy indicator for severe zinc deficiency. In Peru more than 40% of the population is zinc deficient.
Specific objectives in Nepal:
- Improve the training quality of health workers and community volunteers regarding zinc supplementation.
- Improve the logistics of zinc supply and distribution.
- Ensure training and zinc supply is implemented in 30 Nepalese health districts (out of a total of 75 health districts).
Specific objectives in Peru:
- Improve by 40% the zinc intake by children under the age of three through providing zinc supplementation.
- Reduce by 15% the incidence and severity of diarrhoea in children under the age of five in vulnerable areas through using zinc supplements as a therapy.
- Improve knowledge of zinc interventions for the survival, growth and development of children.
- Assist the Peruvian Ministry of Health to put in place a strategy for zinc supplementation nationwide.
In addition to funding the initiative, the zinc industry has visited sites in Nepal (February 2011) and Peru (August 2010), witnessing first hand the life-saving work by UNICEF. A video highlighting the workings of Zinc Saves Kids is available at http://www.zincsaveskids.org/video.html.