SHOPS Plus launched a multi-pronged campaign in Benue state, Nigeria, to stop preventable child deaths from diarrhea. The “Push Diarrhea Away” campaign uses local government leaders, faith leaders, and community volunteers to help spread the message that ORS and zinc should be used to treat uncomplicated diarrhea in children under 5.
More than 200,000 children in Nigeria die each year from diarrhea-related illness, and most communities in Benue state have seen diarrhea-related deaths.
The campaign has reached nearly 30,000 people through road show performances, advocacy visits to rulers of all 23 local government areas in the state, and an official campaign launch event with speeches from well-known public figures in February 2017. At the launch, Dr. Cecilia Ojabo, state commissioner for health and human services, advised the audience on the eradication of diarrheal disease through handwashing, improved quality of drinking water, environmental cleanliness, and avoiding open defecation.
The state’s first lady, Dr. Eunice Ortom, attended the launch event and was recognized as an ORS and zinc champion. In a ceremonial gesture, Dr. Ortom handed batons to wives of local government leaders in Benue State, asking that they be ORS and zinc advocates. She charged them to spread the message of the appropriate treatment for diarrhea. More than 60 other volunteers were recognized at the event. Dozens of young children attended, wearing shirts emblazoned with the campaign name.
“We should endeavor to integrate ORS and zinc messages into our various activities . . . at [the] grassroots level to facilitate a quick scale-up of this intervention and sustain good practices of diarrhea treatment at [the] household level to save the Benue child,” said Dr. Ortom.
SHOPS Plus is working to improve country ownership and ensure sustainability of this ongoing communication campaign.