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Point-Of-Use Water Disinfection and Zinc Treatment Project (POUZN)


The Social Marketing Plus for Diarrheal Disease Control: Point-of-Use Water Disinfection and Zinc Treatment (POUZN) Project was a five-year, USAID-funded project. POUZN was implemented between 2005 and 2010 by AED and Abt Associates, Inc in collaboration with Population Services International.

The POUZN Project aimed to reduce one of the leading causes of illness and death among children worldwide—diarrhea—via two proven methods: preventing diarrhea by disinfecting water at its point-of-use (POU), and treating diarrhea with zinc therapy.


To encourage the availability and sustained use of these two interventions among caregivers of children, POUZN collaborated with private-sector organizations to rapidly implement projects at scale. By leveraging the resources of the private sector in marketing these life-saving products, advocating for regulations that facilitate their use, and mobilizing community-based organizations, POUZN created sustainable, local capacity that reaches the most vulnerable populations.

Safe Drinking Water at the Point-of-Use

Water treatment at the point-of-use such as at households or schools, has been found to reduce diarrhea caused by waterborne pathogens by 30 to 50 percent. POU water disinfection makes contaminated water safe to drink through methods such as filtration, boiling, radiation, or chemical treatment. POUZN created sustainable partnerships to make a variety of POU devices available and affordable to low-income families and communities.

Zinc Treatment to Prevent and Treat Diarrhea

Zinc and oral rehydration therapy (ORT) are recommended by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and local medical associations, as the preferred treatment for childhood diarrhea. Numerous studies have demonstrated that zinc therapy given for 10 to 14 days not only reduces the duration and severity of the diarrhea, but also has a preventive effect against its recurrence. POUZN promoted ORT and zinc treatment for diarrhea and ensured multiple forms of zinc were available to health providers and children's caregivers.

Bringing Programs to Scale Quickly and Sustainably

POUZN mobilized some of India's largest pharmaceutical companies to promote zinc treatment in all 29 states and to over 75,000 general practitioners and pediatricians. These numbers are projected to increase, buoyed by an increasing number of partner companies that will continue to promote zinc to more health professionals and drug retailers across the country.

In Tanzania, POUZN collaborated with Shelys Pharmaceuticals to develop, launch, and create demand for the first-ever brand of zinc for the treatment of diarrhea in Africa. The product was affordably priced to encourage widespread use. In Indonesia, zinc treatment brands were launched and distributed nationwide within one year of project inception. POUZN's efforts increased private-sector supply and created demand for zinc treatment.

Leveraging Significant Private Sector Resources

Every $1 of USAID investment in POUZN/India leveraged $5 of Indian commercial partners' investment in zinc product detailing, promotional materials, training, distribution, market research, and public relations.

Forging Multifaceted Public-Private Partnerships

In addition to commercial partners covering the private market in India, POUZN collaborated with the central and state governments, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, local federations of NGOs, a parastatal manufacturer of zinc, and UNICEF to ensure public sector provision of zinc treatment.

The advocacy work of POUZN and other partners led the Tanzanian government to add zinc treatment to its essential drugs list, thus paving the way for zinc treatment to be procured for all public sector hospitals and health posts in 2008. 

The government of Indonesia, following intense advocacy efforts from POUZN and the Pediatric Society of Indonesia, has changed its Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) guidelines to include zinc treatment for diarrhea. POUZN successfully advocated with the Food and Drug Authority to allow fast tracking of zinc registration.

Using Microfinance to Sustainably Reach Underserved Populations

In Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, POUZN worked with NGOs to introduce POU methods including boiling, solar disinfection, chlorine, and POU devices to the urban and rural poor. Because of the capital outlay required to purchase a water filter, POUZN engaged manufacturers in extending the distribution of their products, and brought in micro-finance organizations to provide small loans to their clients (women self-help groups). Private-sector organizations are planning an independent extension of this project to other regions of India.

News, Publications, and Results


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  • Jal Mitra (Friends of Water)
    This recently produced documentary captures the work of the POUZN project and its partners in the commercial and NGO sectors, delivering sustainable point-of-use interventions in India, and working with the community to educate and motivate households to practice regular use.


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