Regular readers will remember a mini-panic that we had back last month when we visited the Medical Stores Limited (MSL) warehouse to find the type of Zinc supplements we wanted but packed in boxes of 100 tablets (10 blister packs of 10 tablets each) – see the picture below.
This is a real problem for us for several reasons:
- A course of Zinc supplementation is 10-14 tablets for a child 6 months or older and half that for children between 2 and 6 months. This packet contains 10 courses for older children – more than we need and more than the mothers and care-givers we are targeting could afford, or be willing, to buy in a single purchase.
- For good reasons, the pharmaceutical regulations apply to the medicine AND the way the medicine is packaged with its labelling, instructions and so on. This means that we would not be able to break these packets down and include just one or two blister packs in the proposed ADKs (Anti-Diarrhoea Kits).
- And finally, the boxes are too big to fit in an AidPod!
It was time for a re-think. The Zinc tablets we were expecting to find at MSL were PedZinc produced by Shelys Pharmaceuticals in Tanzania. These are already approved for general sale in Zambia but we still had no idea of the package size. Would these be supplied to boxes of 100 tablets too?
I contacted Shelys Pharmaceuticals and yesterday the PedZinc samples arrived from Tanzania and they are:
- Packaged as single blister packs of 10 tablets. The packets have all the required information on the back: tablet description; storage instructions; manufacturer; batch information including date of manufacture and expiry date.
- The package also contains a detailed data and instruction sheet.
- The packaging is very attractive with embossed printing on the front
- Two packets fit very neatly into an AidPod
The attractiveness of the package might seem an odd thing to highlight but the 2009 WHO/UNICEF Report, Diarrhoea : Why children are still dying and what can be done, recommended that products to treat diarrhoea need to be ‘attractive’ to mothers and care-givers and part of this will be the way the product looks. Other research has indicated that ORS is often not seen as ‘medicine’ and this is a drawback. Mothers don’t like to feel that are being ‘palmed off’ with non-medicine – a feeling that applies to mothers the world over I would suspect. PedZinc carries the look and feel of a high quality medicine.
A nice twist to all of this is that Shelys Pharmaceuticals is part of the Sumaria group which also owns the Nyanza Bottling Company Limited and Nyanza Bottling, which is based in Mwanza, is the Coca-Cola bottler for the Lake Region in Tanzania. I’m not the only one to have made this link . . .