Save the Children,, an organisation working for children’s rights and global health and hygiene company RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser) India have stepped forward to extend their support to the Government of India’s Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF 2015) -campaign which aims at reducing child mortality rates in India; one of the prime goals of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Until August 8th, IDCF 2015 an initiative of the National Health Mission aims to conduct intensified activities for control of deaths due to diarrhoea across all States and Union Territories through advocacy and awareness raising activities, distribution of ORS-Zinc and promotion of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) activities. The aim is to empower communities by improving their knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices to prevent diarrhoea.
Save the Children will work with the Department of Health and Family Welfare in their effort through the ground-breaking and ambitious ‘Stop Diarrhoea’ programme. Supported by RB, the programme, for the first time will fully implement the internationally recognized 7-point plan to ensure comprehensive diarrhoea prevention, treatment and control across four key states – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The ‘Stop Diarrhoea’ program combines RB’s expertise in product development and research, and Save the Children’s experience of delivering life-saving work to help save thousands of young lives a year.
The ‘Stop Diarrhoea’ programme will provide facilities such as Zinc-ORS depots and breast feeding corners. In addition, street plays, awareness rallies, home visits for demonstrations on ORS and Zinc usage, pocket meetings with mothers, hand washing demonstrations at Anganwadi Centres and schools will also be conducted to raise awareness around diarrhoea prevention. Meetings to engage with stakeholders like government ministries, development partners and health workers will also be an integral part of the plan.
Thomas Chandy, Chief Executive of Save the Children India, said: “We need to have more campaigns like this to strengthen the ongoing effort to reduce childhood mortality. It is also important for civil society organisations and corporate sector to work together with the government to mobilise communities and create awareness about diarrhoea.”
Nitish Kapoor, Chief Executive of RB India, said, “RB has been funding Save the Children programmes in India since 2010 and has been able to see the real difference they have been making to the lives of Indian families. We believe that together RB and Save the Children can make a critical step towards a better understanding of water, hygiene and sanitation, which in turn will help reduce the number of children dying from diarrhoea in India.”
As part of the programme, RB has also developed two innovative products to improve hand washing and community sanitation. The first one is an affordable germ protection bar that can be used by families for cleaning, washing hands and body. Two years in the making, the second is a ‘game-changing’ toilet powder to reduce the spread of infection from pit latrines. The powder deters flies, reduces faeces and has a pleasant fragrance all to make the pit latrines more hygienic and encourage communities to use the pit latrines versus defecating in public areas.
Childhood diarrhoea continues to be a major killer among children in India, contributing to 10.4 percent of under five deaths in the country, the highest death rate in the world. Around 1.4 lakhs children die due to diarrhoea annually in the country, and it is estimated that 48 percent of Indian children below the age of five years are stunted, with diarrhoea being one of the main causes.