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Supplies and Logistics

Zinc Supplementation

Zinc - protecting against diarrhoea

Contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation are two of the causes of acute diarrhoea which contributes to the death of 1.5 million children under five each year. Zinc tablets help protect children from re-infection for up to three months.

Since 2004, UNICEF and WHO have recommended a course of zinc tablets to be combined with Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) for the treatment of the disease. This is reflected in the fact that UNICEF procurement of zinc tablets increased from 20 million tablets in 2006 to more than 250.8 million in 2015. But this is only a fraction of what is needed to treat children affected worldwide.

UNICEF previously worked with WHO to successfully create and shape the market for ORS, an intervention that has saved countless children’s lives. Building on this, our two agencies are now shaping the market for zinc tablets, extending the pool of suppliers and going to scale to make zinc tablets readily accessible around the world.

In 2006, there was only one supplier identified as compliant with UNICEF requirements for zinc tablets. Following a request from UNICEF, WHO added zinc tablets to its prequalification scheme, further opening the door for potential suppliers by helping them improve the quality of their products.

The overall goal is reducing prices and increasing the number of qualified suppliers, including in developing countries.




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