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Strengthening Intervention on the Scaling Up Zinc and Lo-ORS to Improve Childhood Diarrhoea Treatment in Northern Nigeria’

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Nutrition International, the Government of Canada, in partnership with the Government of Kano and Sokoto States have teamed up for the second phase of the Project on ‘Scaling Up Zinc and LO-ORS to Improve Childhood Diarrhoea Treatment in Northern Nigeria’. This phase of the project seeks to continue its intervention in reducing the number of deaths due to poor treatment of diarrhoea among children under 5 years in Nigeria by 2024.

Spread across twenty-two Local Government Agencies (LGAs) in Kano and Sokoto, the program will support the states to increase and sustain availability and access to Zinc and LO-ORS commodities by strengthening their Drug Revolving Fund (DRF)schemes. In addition, I will improve the capacity of frontline health workers by promoting and supporting the use of Zinc and LO-ORS combination as a first-line treatment for every case of diarrhoea seen at health facilities and community service points and increase prompt care-seeking for children with diarrhoea by their caregivers, by improving the provision of appropriate information to caregivers and influencers.

According to the latest WHO data published in 2018 the number of deaths caused by Diarrhoea in Nigeria reached 178,438 or 9.21% of total deaths. Each year diarrhoea kills around 525, 000 children under five with a national prevalence rate of 13%. More specifically, the prevalence of diarrhoea in the north-western states is considerably higher in Kano at 20.7%, Katsina at 18.6%, and Zamfara at 21.7%.

In the first phase of the project, Nutritional International and Wellbeing Foundation Africa state teams in Kano and Sokoto States conducted the implementation of the project to successfully treat 5,905 children under 5 years through the administration of 150,000 Zinc/Lo-Ors co-packs distributed across the healthcare facilities via the Drug Revolving Fund (DRF). Approximately 1,869 healthcare workers were trained on best practices in the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) who in turn provided frontline supportive supervision in 80 healthcare facilities in both states.

Speaking on the second phase of the project, H.E Mrs Toyin Saraki, Founder-President, WBFA, said “As the implementing partner Nutrition International Scaling Up, Zinc and LO-ORS Project in Kano and Sokoto states, I am honoured that this intervention will continue being impactful as we commence the second phase by increasing treatment, access, and distribution of Zinc/Lo-ORS co-packs within Northern Nigeria and provide the trusted frontline healthcare support and community follow-up needed. By strengthening resilience in the immediate forefront of treatment for diarrhoea, this life-saving care will improve health outcomes and equity in Kano and Sokoto states.

I would like to thank Nutrition International through the funding of the the Government of Canada, the Ministries of Health in both states, state primary health care development agencies, and all those committed to this timely project to combat diarrhoea which is the leading cause of malnutrition and death in children under the age of five.”   

To build on the project’s successes and attain new milestones, both organizations have enlisted the services of trained on-field program staff and healthcare workers from Sokoto and Kano states who will engage in advocacy activities with state policymakers and key stakeholders including the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, International Organization and Donor Agency to secure an increase in states' financial commitment to the DRF scheme to ensure a functional strategy for effective supply chain management within the healthcare system and further strengthen the Drug Revolving Fund within the states.

Nutrition International’s Country Director, Dr Osita Okonkwo said “Nutrition International is excited at the ongoing partnership and collaboration with the governments of Kano and Sokoto Stats in the scale up and promotion of adherence to standard treatment using Zinc and Lo-ORS treatment for the management of diarrhoea in children to enhance childhood survival. Nigeria records high prevalence of diarrhoea episodes among under five young children and with malnutrition being known to prolong episodes of diarrhoea and increase mortality.  Nutrition International is contributing to the reduction in the numbers of death due to diarrhoea by improving prompt health seeking behaviour amongst caregivers, capacity strengthening for health service providers and sustaining availability and access to quality Zinc and LO-ORS commodities in public health facilities as well as support effective implementation of complementary drug revolving schemes in all states. This project is made possible with funding support from the Government of Canada”

The programme expected to run from August 2022 through July 2023 will continue to promote the use of Zinc and LO-ORS as the first-line treatment for diarrheal disease for children, and best hygiene practices for the prevention of diarrhoeal disease in underserved Northern states in Nigeria.

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