Improving Child Health in Cambodia: Social Marketing of Diarrhea Treatment Kit, Results of a Pilot Project
Diarrhea is one of the leading killers of children under five in Cambodia. The recommended first line of treatment for diarrhea is oral rehydration salts (ORS) and therapeutic doses of zinc. However, only 21% of Cambodian children receive treatment with ORS; zinc was not available prior to 2006. PSI/Cambodia implemented a pilot project to promote and distribute a diarrhea treatment kit (DTK) branded OraselKIT® including both ORS and zinc. The project was launched in 2006 in selected districts of Siem Reap and Pursat with support from the WHO and funding from United States Agency
for International Development (USAID). The product was distributed through commercial retail, village shopkeeper networks, and community health workers. A communication campaign targeted
caregivers of children under five, promoting OraselKIT and its use through mass media, a mobile video unit, interpersonal communication (IPC) and promotional materials. Evaluations of the project
suggested high level support and satisfaction with the DTK from stakeholders, providers and caregivers. Overall, use of ORS and associated diarrhea treatment behaviors increased over time, and ORS and zinc recognition and ORS use were higher among implementation (DTK) villages than comparison villages. The pilot project demonstrated that a DTK is an acceptable product to caregivers, that diverse communication approaches can increase awareness and use of the product, and that using private provider networks can successfully improve availability of the product. More education and policy enforcement is needed to discourage ineffective alternative diarrhea treatments and more research should be conducted to monitor trends in DTK use and the DTK’s effect on the total market.