Aiming to Prevent 25,000 Child Deaths from Diarrhea with Zinc in Malawi

Malawi. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

In 2009 and 2010, Malawi developed a national strategy to prevent more than 25,000 child deaths per year by using zinc to treat and prevent diarrhea. The government of Malawi and BASICS Benin, funded by USAID and led by MSH, with support from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), have oriented more than 2,000 communications officers and their supervisors to a national strategic communications plan for the use of zinc and trained nearly 4,000 health workers in the administration of zinc.

The national strategic communications plan promotes awareness of diarrhea as a leading cause of death for children under five and guides all messages on the use of zinc. The messages encourage parents and caregivers to seek treatment upon the onset on diarrhea and follow proper treatment protocol, including appropriate provision of food and fluids. To train health workers, Malawi developed a trainers’ manual that provides detailed guidelines for the treatment of diarrhea.

UNICEF and the WHO have recommended zinc as a treatment and prevention aid for diarrhea in children under the age of five, supplementing oral rehydration salts, since 2004.

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