Acute dehydration caused by loss of water and electrolytes during diarrhoea, if not contained timely, is one of the major causes of mortality among under-fives. However, most dehydration related deaths can be prevented by prompt administration of re-hydration solutions . Therefore propagation of this intervention method is crucial not only for controlling diarrhoeal deaths, but also for contributing towards India's quest to reduce its U5MR (Under 5 Mortality Rate) from 55 at present to 38 by 2015, as set by the UN Millennium Development Goals[ii].
With these compelling concerns, HLFPPT implemented Project AMRIT in 22 districts across six states in India which had high incidence of diarrhoea among children. These included Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It aimed at reducing diarrhoeal deaths among children by advocating the use of ORS-Zinc combination as an "elixir" for treatment and prevention of the disease. The four-year project (November 2009-June 2013) was executed with technical and financial support from UNICEF.
The endeavour of Project AMRIT was to increase availability of ORS sachets and Zinc tablets in the remotest villages, spread awareness among every mother whose child is susceptible to diarrhoea, and promote the use of ORS-Zinc during every diarrhoeal episode.
As a means to achieve this purpose and elicit a lasting behavioural change among its target population, HLFPPT did social marketing of ORS sachets and Zinc tablets to supplement the free government supply of the same.
The Government of India has adopted a poster developed under Project AMRIT and is likely to include it in Operational Guidelines for Childhood Diarrhoea Management using ORS and Zinc. Canada-based mining firm, Teck Resources Ltd, and UNICEF Canada have jointly appreciated FAQ Booklet prepared as a training tool under Project AMRIT. They are likely to source copies of it for large-scale distribution.