‘Diarrhoea kills 71 thousand children in UP each year’


Diarrhoea kills nine children under the age of five in UP every hour, taking the toll to more than 71,000 deaths in a year. This has been stated in an external evaluation of the diarrhoea control programme done by experts from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore and Society for Applied Studies, New Delhi.

Noting that only 16% of private practitioners in UP prescribe zinc, which reinvigorates ORS (oral rehydration solution), researchers concluded that adequate treatment of childhood diarrhoea with zinc and ORS remains a challenge for the private sector providers in UP.

While 84% of private doctors in the state do not prescribe zinc to children, 85% providers in the government sector give zinc with ORS. The finding is significant since diarrhoea accounts for 13% of under five deaths in the state and private providers are the most widely sought sources of care-seeking for paediatric diarrhoea in UP . Published in the current issue of the Journal of Global health, the researchers’ work is titled “Management of childhood diarrhoea among private providers in UP , India”.

Health experts say diarrhoea pushes a child on the verge of death by causing dehydration. Diarrhoea can be prevented with use of safe drinking water, hand-washing, sanitation, immunization and breastfeeding or appropriate nutrition.
“Almost all diarrhoeal deaths can be averted by preventing and treating dehydration by use of ORS, administration of zinc tablets along with adequate nutritional intake by the child,” said Dr Ashutosh Verma, secretary , Indian Paediatric Association, UP.
The researchers explored the ‘circumstances that lead a provider to not recommend zinc’ and found that over 57% did not fully understand the zinc treatment while another 30% claimed that they didn’t have adequate stock. They also noted that private practitioners commonly prescribed antibiotics (61%) an’ anti-diarrhoeal drugs (17.5%) -a practice which increases risk of resistance among kids.

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