A new United Nations report
says diarrhea kills an estimated one fifth of the 8.8 million children under
the age of five who die worldwide each year. The report from UNICEF and the
World Health Organization lays out a multi-pronged strategy aimed at
significantly reducing this death toll. VOA's Jessica Berman reports.
According to the report, diarrhea is responsible for the death of 1.5 million children under the age of five each year, more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. The condition causes death through massive fluid loss, and it often accompanies diseases such as measles and rotavirus infections.
The report says only 39 percent of sick children in developing countries are
receiving the recommended treatment with oral fluid replacement therapy,
considered the cornerstone of treatment for diarrhea.
More children are not receiving oral rehydration, according to Elizabeth Mason of the World Health Organization, in part because the global push promoting the highly-effective therapy dwindled as other health priorities took their place.
As a result, Mason says roll-out of a new and improved rehydration therapy called low-osmolarity oral rehydration salts, or O-R-S, has also been slow in many countries where diarrheal diseases are prevalent. She said
The report recommends five measures for preventing diarrheal illnesses. These
include breastfeeding for infants at least until the age of six months, vitamin
A supplements, better water quality, and the promotion of hand-washing.