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Zinc Saves Kids

In 2010, the International Zinc Association (IZA) launched the “Zinc Saves Kids” initiative in support of UNICEF. Zinc Saves Kids aims at improving the survival, growth and development of undernourished children by funding UNICEF`s zinc supplementation and health care programs in high-burden countries such as Peru and Nepal.

Zinc deficiency ranks among the ten biggest risk factors contributing to disease in developing countries impacting especially young children. Zinc is important for child growth and development and the proper functioning of the immune system. In 2008 an estimated 450,000 children were at risk of dying due to zinc deficiency and millions suffered from long-term health implications due to malnutrition and stunting - a condition where children are too short for their age.

Zinc deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in low-income settings but it can be readily addressed with inexpensive, simple and existing treatments such as zinc supplements. Zinc supplementation as part of an integrated nutrition and health care package has proven effective in preventing and combating chronic malnutrition and stunting and treating acute diarrheal diseases. UNICEF programs co-funded by Zinc Saves Kids in Nepal and Peru have provided excellent results. In Peru health centers providing the combined zinc and oral rehydration salt treatment for diarrhea observed a reduction in diarrhea prevalence of up to 58% and within just three years the prevalence of stunting was reduced by 25%.

While the under-five mortality has been halved since 1990, there are still 6.3 million children under the age of five years who die every year. More than half of these deaths have preventable causes such as diarrhea or pneumonia which account for 29% of under-five deaths.

Despite the progress made by the international community in recent years there is still a challenge to improve this situation further. UNICEF, the World Health Organization, other UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector are accelerating efforts to further reduce child mortality and morbitiy from preventable causes.

IZA continues its efforts through the Zinc Saves Kids initiative. In addition, a number of IZA member companies are engaged in similar initiatives in high-burden countries in Asia and Africa as part of their corporate social responsibility programs. Under the umbrella of the `Mining Compact`the zinc industry contributes more than US$ 4 million annually to save children from preventable deaths.



  Milestones in combating worldwide zinc deficiency:

1900 -1950

Researchers discover that zinc is essential for the growth and survival of plants and animals.



Dr. Ananda Prasad, an Indian biochemist who specialized in the role of zinc in human metabolism, provides clear evidence of zinc and human growth. He gives Middle Eastern adolescents suffering from dwarfism and delayed sexual maturity zinc supplements and notes that their height, weight, bone development and sexual maturation improved significantly.



Zinc and Health Conference is held in Stockholm, Sweden. IZA brings together more than 100 health and nutrition scientists and representatives of governments and NGOs to discuss scientific advances and implications of zinc for public health.



IZA is instrumental in establishing the International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (IZiNCG), an international group of nutrition scientists whose primary objectives are to promote and assist efforts to reduce global zinc deficiency through interpretation of nutrition science, dissemination of information, and provision of technical assistance to national governments and international agencies. IZiNCG focuses on the identification, prevention and treatment of zinc deficiency in the most vulnerable populations of low-income countries. www.izincg.org



UNICEF and WHO recommend zinc tablets in combination with Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) for the effective treatment of diarrhea. Diarrheal diseases account for nearly 2 million deaths annually among children under the age of five in low-income countries.



IZA launches an annual conference highlighting zinc’s importance for human health in Latin America.



Zinc Crops Conference is held in Istanbul, Turkey. IZA, in cooperation with the International Fertilizer Association, brings together almost 200 scientists to address the link between crop production and human health. As a result of this conference, IZA leads a series of round table discussions in Asia and Latin America promoting the use of zinc-containing fertilizers. This will increase crop production and improve the zinc nutritional status of food crops, thus enhancing the zinc intake of people.



The Copenhagen Consensus, an independent body of the world’s leading economists - including five Nobel Laureates - consider malnutrition in children as the world’s biggest problem and suggest that the provision of vitamin A and zinc supplements would be the best investment the world could make for improvement.



IZA launches the 'Zinc Saves Kids' program to improve child survival, growth and development through scaling up the provision of zinc-containing supplements.



UNICEF and WHO launch the Integrated Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhea. The goals by 2025 are: to reduce the incidence of severe pneumonia and diarrhea by 75% each; to reduce under-five mortality from pneumonia to fewer than 3 children per 1000 live births; to reduce under-five mortality from diarrhea to fewer than 1 per 1000 live births; to reduce by 40% the number of children under five years who are stunted compared to 2010 levels.

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