New Delhi: Diarrhoeal disease which is both preventable and treatable, is the second leading cause of death in children under five years of age and takes life of over 5 lakh (5,25,000) children every year, in the world states World Health Organization (WHO). Globally, there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrhoeal disease every year. Also, diarrhoea is a leading cause of malnutrition in children under five years old. This calls for a fight against diarrhoea and protecting the lives of children.
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, 2016 prepared by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), In 2007, in the list of top 10 causes of death, diarrheal diseases ranked at number 2. Ten years later, in 2017, diarrhoea dropped to number 4 in terms causes for death, with 11.5 per cent decline.
In 2007, diarrhoeal diseases were ranked as top third reason behind most premature deaths. Over a decade later, with 34.9 per cent drop, diarrheal diseases now rank number 4 in case of premature deaths.
What is Diarrhoea?
The World Health Organization defines Diarrhoea as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual). Frequent passing of formed stools is not diarrhoea, nor is the passing of loose, ‘pasty’ stools by breastfed babies.
Diarrhoea often leads to dehydration – loss of water and essential nutrients from an individual’s body. In case of young children, and malnourished, dehydration along with diarrhoea can be life threatening.
What Causes Diarrhoea?
Lack of breastfeeding weakens the immune system of children, making them prone to contracting diarrhoea-causing pathogens and pneumonia. Diarrhoea is a symptom of infections caused by a host of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms, most of which are spread by faeces contaminated water.Lack of personal hygiene, food prepared and stored in unhygienic conditions, and consumption of contaminated water can also lead to diarrhoea. Rotaviruses are the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children.
How To Prevent Diarrhoea Among Children?
In India, if children are breastfed, over 3 crore (34,791,524) cases of diarrhoea and 41,882 cases of diarrhoeal death can be prevented, reveals an online tool, ‘Cost of not breastfeeding’, developed by Alive and Thrive, a global nutrition initiative to save lives, prevent illness, and ensure healthy growth of mothers and children. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months can prevent diarrhoea among new borns.
Adopting safe sanitation practices, handwashing with soap and using clean drinking water can reduce the risk of diarrhoea.
Rotavirus vaccination at an early age can avert diarrhoeal infection. With the government’s commitment to ending morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhoea by 2022 and expanding Rotavirus vaccine across India by September 2019, it will be easy to prevent diarrhoea through vaccination.
Treatment Of Diarrhoea
It is always recommended to consult a medical practitioner, but an individual can opt for basic remedies like:
Rehydration: Rehydration is the process of restoring water loss by the means of ORS (oral rehydration salts) solution which is a mixture of clean water, salt and sugar.
Nutritious Diet: Nutrients rich food can help the body recover the loss due to diarrhoea and malnutrition.
Breastfeeding: Exclusive breastfeeding provides babies with perfect nutrition, and protection from various infections including diarrhoea.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.