UNICEF, IZA Program Tackles Kids' Zinc Deficiency

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LIMA, Peru—The extended partnership between International Zinc Association (IZA) and UNICEF helped improve the health, survival, growth and development in vulnerable children of developing countries with "Zinc Saves Kids," a program launched by IZA in 2010.

"Zinc Saves Kids" supported the provision of life-saving zinc and multiple micronutrient supplements to help tackle common health problems such as diarrhea and chronic malnutrition. In third world countries, young children and especially women cannot obtain the proper amount of vitamins and minerals in their diets, causing chronic malnutrition.

The lack of nutrients within these populations leads to numerous health impacts including poor immune response and stunted growth. Children with chronic malnutrition often suffer long -term repercussions in health, education, productivity and income.

“The first 1000 days in the life of a child are a window of opportunity for correcting deficiencies and their life-long impacts," said Paul Martin, representative of UNICEF Peru. "Thanks to IZA and other partners, UNICEF has been able to support the government and people of Peru to make significant progress in reducing chronic malnutrition and diarrhea-related illnesses. In Peru, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition has declined from 29 percent in 2007 to 18 percent in 2012 with big disparities between urban and rural areas."

Paul said continuing the micronutrient interventions will contribute to a sustained decline in deficiencies on a national level.

The number one leading cause of child deaths is diarrhea, which claimed the lives of 1.5 million children globally under the age of five. Those deaths mostly occurred in a dozen countries across South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. "Zinc Saves Kids" is a strategy to prevent deaths of diarrhea-related illness with the treatment of zinc supplements and oral rehydration salts (ORS). Zinc is an important mineral to support the immune system and can decrease the time span and intensity of diarrheal episodes while also preventing subsequent episodes.

"UNICEF is making great strides in Peru in helping solve one of the world’s major problems.  Peru is a country that is rich in zinc resources yet many children do not get adequate quantities of this essential micronutrient," said Stephen Wilkinson, executive director, IZA. 

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