In the developing world, diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children under 5, and is responsible for 800,000 deaths a year. The majority of these deaths are preventable with simple, effective, and affordable treatment – but less than 1 percent of children are actually receiving them.
Last September, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the IKEA Foundation began a new partnership to address these challenges and impact the lives of children. CHAI and the Ikea Foundation will work to increase access to oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc, which can prevent 90 percent of diarrhea-related deaths and costs only US 50 cents, in Kenya and India. The end result? Approximately 40,000 children’s lives could be saved over the next six years, dramatically reducing child mortality in these countries.
CHAI has a history of success in applying market-oriented approaches to increase access to lifesaving medicines. Over the next four years, with the generous support and commitment of the IKEA Foundation, CHAI will work to increase the uptake of ORS and zinc by shaping local markets. CHAI will help increase demand for ORS and zinc by educating mothers that ORS and zinc are the right treatment for their child’s diarrhea, and ensuring that health workers fully understand the benefits of the products over alternatives. Additionally, CHAI will coordinate with pharmaceutical companies and also encourage manufacturers to develop more child-friendly formulations for these treatments similar to a pre-mixed “juice box” version of ORS. The governments of Kenya and India will also play a critical role in making policy and funding decisions needed to improve treatment access in the public sector.
Together, CHAI and the IKEA Foundation are supporting the implementation of new recommendations released by the UN Commission on “Lifesaving Commodities for Women and Children,” which prioritizes zinc and ORS. Through these platforms, the successes and lessons of the CHAI and IKEA Foundation partnership will influence usage of zinc and ORS in other high burden countries, reaching hundreds of thousands more children than would otherwise be possible and generating significant and lasting impact.