Reaching out for health providers to prescribe Zinc/ORS

against diarrhea
Reaching out for health providers to prescribe Zinc/ORS
Health extension workers Achang Objo, left, and Abang Obang, gives medicine to Abong Ojulu for her 2-year-old son Tek at a health post in Itang Woreda in Gambella State of Ethiopia, August 2013. © UNICEF/Ose

Each year, diarrhea is responsible for nearly 600,000 child deaths. A key problem is that most health providers are not aware of the WHO-recommended treatment for diarrhea—zinc and ORS—and their life-saving benefits and hence do not prescribe them. Additionally, countries often lack the resources to develop the same high-quality training tools and marketing materials that pharmaceutical companies use in markets like the US and Europe. To help address these challenges, the Child Health Technical Resource Team launched an online global communications platform, which includes a suite of tools such as job aids, posters, brochures, and videos to educate providers about the importance of using zinc and ORS to treat child diarrhea. This represents the first effort of its kind to provide adaptable, downloadable, market-researched tools that can be customized, printed, and shared locally. In particular, the materials are designed for country stakeholders—NGOs, governments, and local manufacturers—who need materials to support provider outreach efforts around diarrhea treatment, but have limited time and resources to create new materials from scratch. Since its launch, partners in Nigeria and Uganda have already adapted and implemented these materials. In Nigeria, the zinc/ORS video, The Strength to Fight, was translated into several local languages and is being used by SHOPS, CHAI and ICARE projects during trainings for proprietary patent medicine vendors (‘PPMVs’ or drug shop operators). Posters were also customized, printed, and distributed to nearly all PPMVs in three high burden states. In Uganda, the Ministry of Health adapted the tools to train more than 10,000 frontline healthcare workers, 12,000 rural and urban retail drug shop owners, and 6,000 clinicians from faith-based clinics. The Child Health TRT is currently developing similar tools to help improve timely care-seeking and diagnosis of pneumonia and treatment with amoxicillin dispersible tablets. The tools will be available by Fall 2015.

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