This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.
Ontario Mining Association member Teck with UNICEF Canada recently launched a $5 million, five-year program that expects to save more than 150,000 children’s lives in India. Through the Zinc Alliance for Child Health (ZACH), this initiative aims to increase the use of zinc supplementation and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea and improve health care systems in India. The announcement of this program was made at Canada’s High Commission in India’s capital city New Delhi.
The main target is the childhood populations of three states in India with the highest rates of childhood diarrhea – Uttar Pradesh, Madhiya Pradesh and Odisha. Providing zinc supplements and oral rehydration salts holds the potential to save more than 150,000 children.
“This new initiative exemplifies the considerable contributions corporate partnerships can make towards improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children. UNICEF’s partnership with Teck in India will provide strategic investments in proven interventions,” says UNICEF Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer David Morley. “UNICEF first partnered with Teck in Nepal and Peru through the International Zinc Association and we are pleased to be strengthening this partnership.”
The harsh reality, Teck is striving to change shows that one quarter of deaths of children under five years of age occur in India. Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of these fatalities, estimated to claim 225,000 children in India annually. Currently, only 2% of children in Indian suffering from diarrhea have access to the life-saving therapy of zinc supplements and oral rehydration salts.
“In India, the number of children dying from diarrhea – an illness that can be treated with zinc and ORS – is particularly dire,” says Doug Horswill, Senior Vice President at Teck. “As one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, we have the ability and knowledge to help address this critical children’s health issue.”
India is the fourth nation Teck, through its partnership in ZACH, has become involved in offering life-saving therapeutic zinc treatments. The other nations are in Africa. A pilot project was launched in Senegal in May of last year and programs for Ethiopia and Burkino Faso were announced earlier this year.
While zinc has many valuable industrial and commercial applications such as an anti-corrosive agent for galvanization, in batteries, brass and sunscreens, its role as a micro-nutrient is crucial to human health. Zinc’s role in human health and hygiene far outweigh the 0.0032% of body mass it accounts for in humans.
A shortage of the micro-nutrient in diets can impair health and development. Zinc helps to heal wounds, it fights infection, its keeps skin healthy and it is a powerful tool to help fight diarrhea.
Teck operates one of the largest zinc mines in the world, which is located in Alaska, and at its integrated operations in Trail, British Columbia, the company is capable of producing about 278,000 tonnes of refined zinc annually. In other forms, this vital element can be a powerful medical tool capable of saving lives.
Mining companies are responsible, solution-providing partners in society. They do more than find, extract and process minerals essential to our modern lifestyle. They volunteer and add great value to the quality of life in their communities and beyond.