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Modified supply chain gets lifesaving diarrhea medicines to children in India

April 18, 2017

Diarrhea is the second most common cause of childhood deaths worldwide, with the highest number occurring in India. The World Health Organization has recommended zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) as the best methods of preventing and treating childhood diarrhea. But, it can be difficult to get these medicines to the communities in India that need them most, particularly to families living in remote areas.

child smilingFor more than four years, FHI 360 has been working in India to ensure that patients, especially those in remote areas, have access to zinc and ORS. Through two projects, we helped reduce the number of deaths due to diarrhea in infants and children under age five. The Diarrhea Alleviation through Zinc and ORS Therapy (DAZT) project operated in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Zinc and ORS to Reduce Diarrhea and Avert Its Recurrence (ZORDAR) project operated in Madhya Pradesh, working in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Both projects aimed to improve access to quality ORS and zinc products, ensured by Good Manufacturing Practices, for patients in underserved rural areas by using a unique partnership to improve the supply chain for pharmaceuticals. FHI 360 aligned with the typical pharmaceutical supply chain that usually involves manufacturers, distributors, sales representatives and pharmacies. But, to reach the first-line rural health providers, the DAZT project extended the supply chain to include local nongovernmental organizations that could deliver medicines to rural health providers and encourage community members to use them. Thus, rural communities could rely on an uninterrupted supply of lifesaving products.

Using this extended supply chain model, the ZORDAR team was able to make sure that the most remote areas received appropriate medicines. The Clinton Health Access Initiative continues to use this supply chain model, and local nongovernmental organizations are now running the program on their own.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360