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B.C. resource giant mining a healthier India.

Over 100,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrhea in India, as the Asian economic giant continues to carry the highest burden of childhood diarrhea death in the world.

But if Vancouver-based mining giant Teck Resources has its way, that number will be brought down drastically over the next five years.

Last week, Teck committed to invest an additional CAD$2.5 million to support life-saving zinc and oral rehydration salt (ORS) treatments for children in India over the next five years.

This investment builds upon the CAD$5 million that Teck committed to UNICEF in 2013. Over the past five years, the partnership has saved the lives of 62,000 children in India.

Studies show that if zinc and ORS coverage reached 100 per cent, it could prevent up to 93 per cent of diarrhea related deaths in India's youngest children.

Teck's continued support will increase the use of zinc and ORS as a life-saving treatment across Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh--three states with the highest numbers of childhood diarrhea death in India.

"This partnership and renewed support demonstrates the magic that can happen for the most vulnerable children when a forward thinking company decides to step up and partner with UNICEF to bring life-saving treatments to the children of India," said UNICEF Canada's President and CEO David Morley.

"Thanks to this partnership with Teck, UNICEF will continue its work making innovative improvements to diarrhea treatment and management practices and delivering key interventions."

Under the program up to 2.5 million mothers will receive life-saving information to protect their children from diarrhea and over 29,000 female health workers will be trained to improve access to basic health care in remote areas.

The program will also address disparities in healthcare for girls and boys, as mortality rates of girls under the age of five from diarrhea are significantly higher than that of boys.

Since 2013, the Teck-UNICEF partnership in India has increased availability of zinc and ORS and achieved the following:

I) Reached over 3.4 million community members with life-saving messages on the importance of zinc and ORS,

II) 125,000 female health workers have been trained and more than 1 million mothers have been educated,

III) As a result, zinc coverage has increased from 1 percent of children with diarrhea to approximately 20 percent.

ORS is a mixture of clean water, salt and sugar which is absorbed in the small intestine and replaces the water and electrolytes lost through feces. Zinc supplements reduce the duration of a diarrhea episode by 25%, and are associated with a 30% reduction in stool volume, according to the WHO.

"Our company and our people are committed to giving back to communities and making a positive difference in the world. Providing life-saving zinc treatments has helped to save the lives of thousands of children in India and by renewing this project we can continue to save more lives," said Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck.

"We have been proud to partner with UNICEF to get zinc treatments to children who need them most, and to see the positive impact of our work together over the last five years."

The renewed $2.5 million partnership was announced at a special reception hosted by UNICEF Canada at the recent United Nations during the General Assembly in New York City.

In a decade to 2015, India's efforts to tackle diarrhea--a disease easily preventable through sanitation, safe drinking water and hygiene--have led to a 52% fall in deaths of children below the age of four, but the prevalence of diarrhea, at 9.2%, has remained high, according to national health data.

Despite the improvement in mortality, diarrhea remained among the leading causes of death in Indian children below the age of five, killing an estimated 321 children every day in 2015, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Between 2000-2012, India's under-five mortality declined by an average of 3.7% annually, according to this September 2013 study published in the Lancet.

"Even though the deaths among children under five years have declined, the proportional mortality accounted by diarrheal diseases still remains high," said this 2015 paper referring to the Lancet study.

By Mata Press Service

Caption: Teck Resources has committed to invest an additional CAD$2.5 million to support life-saving zinc and oral rehydration salt (ORS) treatments for children in India over the next five years.

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Title Annotation:Top Story
Publication:South Asian Post
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 4, 2018
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