As 2014 turns into 2015, many of us start to think of resolutions. There is something satisfying about the start of a new year, as with it we feel the hope of new possibilities to achieve what remains just out of reach. I am thinking of zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS).
With that hope and optimism, I have listed out my top 5 resolutions for 2015 in the scope of ending the destruction caused by diarrhoeal disease.
Number 1: Zinc & ORS as the treatment of choice for diarrhoea. I want this to be the first things mothers ask for and the first treatment health care workers recommend.
Number 2: Availability of zinc & ORS. I want all health facilities -- be they private or public -- to always be stocked with zinc & ORS and that all health workers have zinc & ORS in their diagnostic bags as they make house visits in rural areas, to save the mother a walk to distant health facilities.
Number 3: Mothers and caregivers trust zinc & ORS. I want all mothers and caregivers to know about and feel confident in using zinc & ORS to treat their children's diarrhoea. I want to make sure that when a mother is given zinc & ORS to treat her child she knows how to prepare the medicine at home. I also want to make sure she can get good advice and have her questions answered.
Number 4: Front Line Health Worker Empowerment. I want more and more health workers to have the skills and confidence to counsel and demonstrate to parents and caregivers on the use of zinc and ORS to treat diarrhoea. Zinc is a new product in many places and health workers are tasked with teaching parents how to use the treatment that they themselves may not have used. With training on how to dissolve the zinc in a spoon and advice on reminding the mothers to give the full 10 days of zinc, even once diarrhea treatment stops; health workers play a vital role in scaling up zinc & ORS for diarrhea treatment.
Number 5: Scale-up of Rota Virus Vaccines. I would like to see an increase the reach and availability of rota virus vaccine, to see a decrease both in the burden of diarrhoea on the lives of children, through one less source of diarrhoea, and reduced strain on health systems as well as the toll on young children that suffer countless episodes of diarrhea. The rota virus vaccine has huge potential to save lives at a low cost. Senegal is one of most recent countries to introduce the rota virus vaccine to protect the country's children.
May you be more resilient, find innovative solutions to problems, maintain your determination and, most importantly, have a diarrhoea-free year in 2015.