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From India: UNICEF distributes rehydration salts to treat diarrhoea

DELHI, 31 December 2004 – UNICEF is launching a fleet of mobile vans across three disaster-hit districts of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry this New Year’s weekend to help families in relief camps prevent and treat any outbreak of diarrhoea, especially among children.

The 40 vans will cover 225 relief camps in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Kanyakumari and Pondicherry beginning on Saturday, 1 January for a two to three day blitz. Each van will have a small team of communicators who will distribute Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), soap, water containers and easy-to-read leaflets about how to prevent or handle diarrhoea. While diarrhoea is particularly deadly for children as a result of dehydration and malnutrition, many cases can be treated with ORS.

“Diarrhoea is a child killer, but we can stop dehydration with ORS and good information,” said Cecilio Adorna, UNICEF Representative to India. “That’s why we are taking urgent action to give families in the relief camps the information they need to act immediately if their children get sick.”

UNICEF is tying up with one of India’s leading advertising agencies, Ogilvy & Mather, to manage and carry out the information campaign. 140 animators will be assigned to the vans, and each van will be equipped with a miking unit to pass on information about diarrhoea. The animators will demonstrate how to mix and use ORS, distribute bars of soap, and distribute flyers on hygiene and sanitation. An initial 20,000 packets of ORS and 76,000 bars of soap will be distributed, along with stainless steel mixing vessels, ladles, tumblers, teaspoons and plastic mugs and buckets.

UNICEF is also supporting a sanitation and clean-up campaign in all 82 relief camps in Nagapattinam, starting on Sunday and running for three days. 100 volunteers from two NGOs already working on a state-wide sanitation campaign will be assigned in pairs to remove garbage from the camps and create areas for sanitation. An assessment is underway on toilet construction.

Other activities:

  • UNICEF is supplying 2,237 water tanks in four districts of Tamil Nadu. 136 tanks have been delivered in Kanchipuram and 200 in Cuddalore. 110 water tanks are being delivered to Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam. 55 tanks which arrived in Nagapattinam this afternoon are currently being installed at relief sites. The remaining tanks will be delivered next week.
  • 170,000 sachets of ORS are purchased by UNICEF for families affected by the disaster in Tamil Nadu, of which 60,000 have already arrived in the worst-affected districts. An extra 2 million sachets are being procured, with a plan for a phased delivery.
  • 3 million chlorine tablets will reach government hospitals by this evening
  • 12,900 kilograms of bleaching powder are being distributed
  • Orders are being placed today for 40,000 cotton sheets and 30,000 sleeping mats
  • 300 footballs, 1,000 tennis balls and 200 cricket bats provided to UNICEF by private companies will be given to children in relief camps


For more information, please contact:

Corinne Woods, Delhi Communication, +91 11 2469-0401-9 (o)
+91 98186-49088 (m)

Michael Galway, Delhi Communication +91 11 2469-0401-9 (o)
+91 98180-95485 (m)





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