In 2012, diarrhea was one of the top three killers of children under the age of five years in Nigeria, responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths each year.1 Zinc and oral rehydration salts (ORS) can prevent over 90% of diarrhea-related deaths. However, in Nigeria, less than 1% of children received the full recommended treatment. Instead, the majority of children continued to receive suboptimal products like antibiotics and antidiarrheals or received nothing at all. Approximately 70% of caregivers sought care for diarrhea in the private sector.2
Caregivers and health providers were often unaware of zinc and ORS as the recommended treatment of child diarrhea resulting in low demand. As a result, suppliers had limited incentive to invest in the distribution and promotion of the products thereby creating a ‘market trap.’ The political and partner environment further impeded the uptake of the products through limited attention, funding, and unfavorable regulatory conditions.
In response, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), through the Nigerian Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), launched its first-ever National Essential Medicines Scale-up Plan, which aimed to reach an ambitious target of 80% coverage of zinc and ORS nationwide by the end of 2015.