Saving Lives Around the World with Zinc

By Kathleen Reid (Teck Resources), Teck Resources Limited
11:09 AM, July 19, 2013

Related tags

Zinc, Teck, Development, Health

The Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH) brings together Canadian organizations committed to accelerating the use of zinc and ORS around the world to treat diarrhea, one of the leading killers of children. More infants die from diarrhea-related illnesses associated with zinc deficiency than from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.

ZACH aims to make the management of childhood diarrhea a key part of reducing child mortality. ZACH works with all levels of government to help ensure the availability of supplies and treatment that is affordable for families, communities, and the wider health system.

The first partnership under ZACH was formed between Canadian partners the Micronutrient Initiative, the government of Canada, and Teck in 2011.

ZACH’s first project was launched in Senegal in May 2012 in support of that country’s Ministry of Health plan to dramatically scale-up zinc treatments for children aged six months to five years. The project aims to treat more than 2 million cases of diarrhea in Senegalese children under the age of five over the next three years. Zinc and ORS treatment is being delivered by healthcare workers at 4,000 health facilities across Senegal.

To date, the project has supplied 39,000 zinc treatments to health facilities and treated more than 8,000 cases of diarrhea with zinc and ORS. As a result of ongoing advocacy and consultation by ZACH, zinc and ORS are now provided free of charge in public health facilities by the Ministry of Health in Senegal. This is significantly improving access to treatment for the country’s poorest populations. In February 2013, ZACH launched two major projects in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia that will save more young lives.
The numbers cannot be ignored. Each year, more than 1 million children under the age of five die from complications associated with diarrhea.

InitiatorTeck Resources
Project start
mainly Africa
Contact person
Kathleen Reid

Project benefit

  • Health prevention in Africa
  • Supporting MDGs
Anti-Corruption -
Business & Peace -
Development x
Environment -
Financial Markets -
Implementing UNGC Principles in your Corporate CSR Management -
Human Rights x
Labour Standards -
Local Networks -
Advocacy of global issues x
Business opportunities in low income communities/countries -
Project funding x
Provision of goods x
Provision of services/personal -
Standards and guidelines development -
  • Canadian Government

Burkina Faso: Aim to treat 7 million cases of diarrhea by 2015

Sadly, nearly one in five children born in Burkina Faso does not see his or her fifth birthday. The project in Burkina Faso will scale-up the use of zinc supplementation and oral rehydration salts to treat childhood diarrhea across the country. The project will aim to treat more than 7 million cases of diarrhea in children under the age of five over the next three years and train healthcare workers and caregivers on the proper treatment of diarrhea with zinc and ORS.

Project components include increasing knowledge and awareness so that more caregivers, health practitioners, and community members recognize the importance of treating diarrhea with zinc and ORS. ZACH will work with all levels of government to help ensure the availability of supplies and treatment that is affordable for families, communities, and the wider health system.

Ethiopia: Aim to treat 6.5 million cases of diarrhea by 2015

The project in Ethiopia is focused on increasing awareness of diarrhea as a serious childhood illness, as well as increasing awareness that zinc and ORS are the treatment of choice.

Currently, just over a third of children with diarrhea who are taken for treatment at a health post or clinic in that country receive oral rehydration salts, and zinc treatment is close to zero. Yet, providing both forms of treatment not only helps children recover from diarrhea faster, but can help save their lives. The ZACH Ethiopia project is expected to treat 6.5 million episodes of diarrhea in children under the age of five by 2015.

Diarrhea is one of the diseases targeted in Ethiopia’s National Child Survival Strategy, which the ZACH project will support. The project aims to make the management of childhood diarrhea a key part of Ethiopia’s efforts to reduce child mortality.

ZACH expands with a new partnership in India

In April 2013, Teck announced a new partnership with UNICEF to help save the lives of children in India. Nearly one-quarter of all worldwide deaths of children under the age of five occur in India. Many of these children die from a preventable cause – diarrhea. Currently, less than 2 percent of children with diarrhea are treated with zinc and ORS – a proven and effective form of treatment.

Teck and UNICEF’s partnership will improve child health in three states of India – Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh – by improving access to and use of zinc and ORS as therapeutic treatments for diarrhea. The partnership aims to save the lives of approximately 150,000 children from 2013–2017, and 50,000 lives annually by improving coverage of effective diarrhea treatment and strengthening healthcare systems in three regions in India.

A simple solution to a global problem

Since being launched in 2011, Teck’s Zinc & Health program has made significant progress in improving distribution channels, raising awareness, and educating others about the devastating effects of zinc deficiency. The program focuses on short- and long-term solutions organized around five pillars: Therapeutic Zinc, Zinc Supplementation, Advocacy and Awareness, Food Fortification, and Crop Nutrition. To learn more about Teck’s Zinc & Health program, visit or follow @ZincSavesLives on Twitter.

Zinc is fundamental for human health. It is crucial for growth and brain development and helps fight dangerous infections, especially in children. Sadly, zinc deficiency affects 2 billion people worldwide and contributes to the death of nearly 450,000 children under five each year. It costs less than $0.50 for a 10–14 day course of zinc treatment and oral rehydration salts to treat acute diarrhea, and ultimately save a child’s life. Zinc treatment has been recognized as a cost-effective solution for treating acute diarrhea by the international community, including the World Health Organization and Copenhagen Consensus.

As Canada’s largest diversified resource company and one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, Teck recognizes the role we can play in finding solutions to the global issue of zinc deficiency. We believe in strategic community investments that make a difference and are related to our core business. Our Zinc & Health programs are active in communities where zinc deficiency is a major issue. In 2011, Teck launched the Zinc & Health program to raise awareness and contribute to short- and long-term solutions to zinc deficiency worldwide. Our involvement with the UN Global Compact has fostered the partnerships needed with multilateral organizations, businesses, NGOs, and governments to advance Zinc & Health. Through our Zinc & Health program, we are proud to be working toward the health-related UN Millennium Development Goals.

This project description was originally presented in the Global Compact International Yearbook 2013.

About the Authors
Reid, Kathleen

Kathleen Reid is Communications Coordinator at Teck Resources

Teck Resources Limited

Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with business units focused on copper, steelmaking coal, zinc and energy, and is also a significant producer of specialty metals such as germanium and indium. We are headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.

It owns, or has an interest in, 13 mines in Canada, the USA, Chile and Peru, as well as one metallurgical complex. They are actively exploring for copper, zinc and gold in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa.

It has expertise across a wide range of activities related to mining and minerals processing including exploration, development, smelting, refining, safety, environmental protection, product stewardship, recycling and research.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect CSR Manager's editorial policy.
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