Zinc supplements are just one way to stop diarrheal disease in children under five, a major cause of child mortality throughout the developing world.

Of the following options below, which one is NOT an effective way to prevent or treat diarrheal disease.

Use of improved sanitation

Poor sanitation, including open defecation and the lack of toilets, is a major cause of the spread of diarrheal disease. Two-thirds of open defecation worldwide occur in India. But it’s not just good enough to build a toilet – people need to use it regularly. Which is why PSI is working in India to build the market for toilets and increase usage by making toilets both affordable and aspirational.

Hand washing with soap

Hand washing is a vital behavior for reducing the incidence of diarrheal disease. That’s why PSI is working in partnership with Unilever to directly train educators and community health workers on the “School of Five” approach, a 21-day behavior change program promoting handwashing with soap among children. The program also provides children with easy-to-remember talking points so they can share what they’ve learned – and why it’s important – with their families at home.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, without adding any other foods or liquids including water, is a natural and irreplaceable way to promote healthy growth, as well as avoid diarrheal disease. In fact, infants who are not exclusively breastfed are 11 times more likely to die of diarrhea.

Through our existing networks, PSI provides new mothers with messages about the importance of breastfeeding for the first six months of life, starting within an hour of birth, preferably. We use a variety of means to make sure these messages are culturally-appropriate and effective.

Iodine supplements

Iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage in children. Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy or early childhood can lead to severe problems, from cognitive impairment to death.

However, iodine cannot prevent or treat diarrheal disease. And while 54 countries are still iodine deficient, the global health community is on the verge of eradicating iodine deficiency disease through the use of iodized salts.

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