The Diarrhea Alleviation through Zinc and ORS Therapy (DAZT) project works with both the public and the private sectors to reduce diarrhea among children and increase child survival in two states in India, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. DAZT is implemented by FHI 360 in partnership with the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and UNICEF. FHI 360 focuses on the private sector, while MI deals with the public sector, Johns Hopkins manages evaluation, and UNICEF handles knowledge management.
Although preventable, diarrhea is one of the leading causes of illness and death among children worldwide. Zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) have been endorsed by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, local health authorities and the Indian Association of Pediatricians as the leading methods for preventing and treating childhood diarrhea.
Most caregivers wait too long (an average of two days) before seeking care, and when they do, their source of health care in the rural areas is usually an unqualified practitioner. FHI 360 and its local partners focus on ensuring sustained demand and a continuous supply of zinc and ORS, especially in the most remote areas. Pharmaceutical industry partners and nongovernmental organizations regularly visit rural medical practitioners and drugstores and promote zinc and ORS treatment through behavior change techniques, including short videos about the benefits of the treatment. (In addition, an interactive educational video game is under development.) The routing and outcome of the daily visits (product sales) are monitored through daily SMS messages, and a tracking survey monitors the progress in rural medical practitioners’ prescription behavior every quarter. FHI 360 also organizes monthly meetings with local partners to address challenges and fine-tune program implementation.