Saathi Bachpan Ke ('Friends of Childhood' in Hindi) is a national alliance established by MBPH that aims at improving child health by reducing the incidence of diarrheal diseases in children under five by promoting simple and effective solutions. Formally launched on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) by the US Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, the Alliance aims at establishing diverse partnerships with the public and private sectors, non-government organizations, research and media agencies and other public health organizations, working in the areas of hand washing with soap, purification of drinking water and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) therapy.
The program has been designed recognizing that despite the existence of inexpensive and efficient means of prevention and treatment, diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles put together. Diarrhea is the second largest killer of children under five in India, with 386,600 deaths each year. Research indicates that 88 percent of these deaths are preventable through modifications to the environment, including availability of clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
Saathi Bachpan Ke aims to garner the strength of the public and private sectors (pharmaceutical, soap and hygiene product partners) for diarrhea management. At present, the program is partnering actively with marketers of Dettol, Swach) and Orydrate and encouraging them to play an important role in the promotion of positive health behaviors by supporting the integration of public health messages into their different marketing initiatives and interventions.
The program has also developed a robust outreach and communications strategy, focusing on creating evidence for future scale up with government programs and schemes and catalyzing commercial sector investments. In addition, mass-media campaigns promoting the use of soap, ORS and water purifiers to build brand communication around diarrhea prevention and management are being developed. As part of the communications strategy, outreach to news media has been employed as a critical advocacy tool to improve the visibility and salience of Saathi Bachpan Ke.
* World Health Organization, Global Burden of Disease Estimates, 2004 Update
+ Child Survival II. The Lancet, Vol 362. July 5, 2003