SHOPS Plus is working to increase the availability and use of oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc in Benue and Kebbi states to help save children’s lives. Through mass media and interpersonal communications activities, the project is strengthening the provision of private sector information, products, and services at the community and health facility levels.
In Nigeria, more than 240,000 children under 5 die annually due to diarrhea-related causes, and the recommended treatment combination of ORS and zinc tablets are not reaching children in need. While the majority of caregivers seek diarrhea treatment outside the home, only 25 percent of children with diarrhea receive ORS and less than one percent receives zinc. Of the caregivers who do seek treatment, 41 percent go to the private sector.
Community leaders learn the proper protocol
To ensure that caregivers know the proper diarrhea prevention and treatment protocol, the SHOPS Plus team is training key community and faith leaders. The training program focuses on raising awareness and creating demand for the use of ORS and zinc. Participants learn how to identify symptoms early and administer the correct treatment, and know when to get the help of a medical professional.
Attendees include amiras (Islamic female leaders), imams (Islamic male leaders), Catholic priests, church pastors, Christian leaders, and community leaders such as village elders. The training programs are three-hour sessions typically held during regularly scheduled meetings. The influential leaders are encouraged to incorporate the lessons learned in the training session into their meetings or community gatherings.
By December 2016, SHOPS Plus had trained 130 leaders in Benue and 125 in Kebbi.
Suppliers linked to wholesalers
To meet the increased demand, SHOPS Plus is working to ensure the supply of ORS and zinc in the retail market. The project initiated discussions linking supply partners and intermediaries to help consolidate and sustain supply channels. SHOPS Plus is also monitoring product availability through intermediaries to ensure constant supply.