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Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Hyderabad conducted a 6-day all-India Vachan (Add life to ORS) campaign from May 18-23, 2015 to urge paediatricians to prescribe the addition of zinc to ORS in the treatment of acute diarrhea in children. A total of 18,123 doctors, the most in such a campaign, signed their commitment on pencil boxes. Vachan was carried out by 287 medical representatives. The aim of the campaign was to ensure that paediatricians prescribe zinc to all children diagnosed with diarrhea, thereby preventing diarrheal deaths in children under the age of five.
The reason Dr Reddy’s Laboratories took this cause so seriously was that data from various sources suggested that India is No1 in diarrheal deaths in children under 5 years. In fact, every hour, 44 children die due to diarrhea in India. Every 5th child who dies of diarrhea worldwide is an Indian and most shocking of all, diarrhea kills more children than malaria, AIDS and measles combined. Which is why, WHO and UNICEF issued guidelines for the treatment of diarrhea in children in 2004. Low osmolarity ORS and zinc were recommended as mainstay of treatment for diarrhea. Recently, Zinc was also included in the National Programme and also recommended by IAP (Indian Academy of Paediatrics). But, little improvement was documented for zinc prescriptions in India. In 2009, when UNICEF conducted a survey across 10 districts to analyse zinc prescriptions in India, they found less than 1 % of zinc prescriptions in India. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories wanted to ensure paediatricians prescribe Zinc to all children diagnosed with diarrhea.