345,000 zinc tablets donated to help treat diarrhea in Kenya

ST. LOUIS, MO (USA), February 21, 2011 – Children’s malnutrition organization, Vitamin Angels, is distributing more than 345,000 zinc tablets to help prevent children’s deaths due to diarrhea, thanks to a donation by St. Charles, Missouri-based Novus International, Inc., a global industry leader in nutrition and health.

The zinc tablets are being provided through Novus’s human ingredient division Stratum Nutrition, also based in St. Charles, Missouri. The tablets will be used to supplement oral rehydration salt (ORS) to reduce diarrheal episodes in infants and children under the age of five, the age group most vulnerable to this illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, widespread use of ORS in conjunction with zinc can prevent up to 88 percent of the 1.5 million childhood deaths worldwide each year due to diarrhea.

The tablets are being distributed by Vitamin Angels at two MillenniumVillages projects in Kenya. The Millennium Villages project offers a bold, innovative model for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The organization believes by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can help reduce extreme poverty and hunger by half and improve education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability for hundreds of millions of people throughout the continent.

“We know what a huge difference this zinc will play in saving children’s lives,” said Howard Schiffer, president of Vitamin Angels, which supports projects in 41 countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. “We are thankful to our partners, Novus, Stratum and Millennium Villages, for their commitment to reaching the children who are most in need.”

The zinc tablets provided by Novus will be used in the management of acute diarrhea among children under five years of age. Normally, supplies are provided by the Kenya Ministry of Health, but a lack of stock in 2010 resulted in health teams using only ORS to treat diarrhea. The donation from Novus will cover the local needs throughout 2011.

“We are very proud of our partnership with Vitamin Angels and how our collective efforts can have such a tremendous impact on the lives of children in need,” said Thad Simons, president and CEO, Novus International, Inc. “Partnering with Vitamin Angels is an easy choice for us. The organization’s work directly aligns with our corporate vision to 'help feed the world affordable, wholesome food and achieve a higher quality of life’.”

“This donation is timely in view of the fact that diarrhea remains one of the leading causes of childhood morbidity and mortality,” said Margaret Wagah, the regional nutrition coordinator for the Millennium Villages in East and Southern Africa. “The zinc supplementation will serve as a useful nutrition intervention for promoting child survival in the village