Treating Childhood Diarrhea in India with ORT and Zinc: Engaging the Pharmaceutical Industry and Private Providers

Lessons Learned from the POUZN/AED Project

Zinc is widely recognized as a highly effective and inexpensive way to treat childhood diarrhea. In 2005, USAID created the Point-of-Use Water Disinfection and Zinc Treatment (POUZN) Project and contracted with AED to introduce zinc in combination with Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) in India.  This case study provides the context for and goals of the project; the various phases of POUZN; and strategy adjustments. It looks to the future for next steps and summarizes the principle lessons learned during the project.

The following lessons may prove useful for further work in India, as well as be adaptable to other countries:

  • Zinc treatment is a new concept and competes with well-entrenched prescription behaviors and traditional treatment practices.
  • Key opinion leaders in both the public and the private sector (including top pediatricians) are crucial zinc champions. 
  • Working with the private pharmaceutical sector is critical to ensure a long-term, competitively priced supply of zinc and sustained demand generation.
  • The reach of pharmceutical marketing (and "detailing") is limited in rural areas, and the "trickle down"
  • The public and private sectors have different objectives and time scales. 

Academy for Educational Development



March 2010
Resource Types
BCC for Diarrhea and Pneumonia
Health Area
Child Health
oral rehydration therapy
oral rehydration solutions
oral rehydration salts
oral rehydration
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