Former first daughter is joining forces with Nigerian heads of state — including President Goodluck Jonathan — as a representative from the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). Not the tea — the acronym is just a happy coincidence. CHAI is providing $25 million in support of the Save One Million Lives campaign, which includes not only Nigeria but Kenya and India as well.
CHAI isn't new to Nigeria. It's been working in that part of the world since 2007, focusing its attention on HIV/AIDS services. The initiative's efforts have lead to a 350% increase in pediatric HIV/AIDS testing and a 70% increase in access to antiretroviral drugs for children living with HIV/AIDS. Not bad for a president some used to refer to as "Slick Willy" right? Kidding and unfortunate nicknames aside, the Clinton Foundation has turned its attention to helping reduce mother and child deaths due to other preventable diseases (though it continues its work in HIV/AIDS). CHAI's first target — diarrhea.
Though many of us think of diarrhea as an unpleasant condition, in many parts of the world it’s a veritable death sentence for those who do not have access to over-the-counter medications and rehydration drinks. In Nigeria, there is no running down to your local pharmacy to pick up a Gatorade and a box of anti-diarrheal medication. Not because rehydrating drinks and medicines aren't available; they just aren't easily accessible. And up until recently, they were not available over-the-counter. Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration recently approved drug policy changes that allow specific diarrheal treatments such as zinc and oral rehydration solutions to be produced, marketed, and distributed as over-the-counter medications.
Currently, less than 2% of children in Nigeria suffering from diarrhea are using any sort of treatment. The goal of the Save a Million Lives campaign is to increase the use of common treatments such as zinc and oral rehydration solutions from 2% to 80% by 2015. The expected result? An estimated 220,000 children's lives saved. The remaining 780,000 lives saved to reach the million mark will be done through improving the quality of health care for women and children throughout the country.