Approximately 2,200 children die of Diarrheal Diseases per day, which, if put in perspective, is equivalent to about 30 buses full of kids.
With Diarrheal diseases causing approximately 1 Million deaths annually, the importance of this crisis must be elevated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Diarrheal Disease ranks amongst the top 10 causes of death in low-income to lower-middle income countries . It is also the second leading cost of death amongst children below the age of five.
Why are Diarrheal Diseases so devastating?
In developed countries, diarrhea is often taken lightly. Unfortunately for people in developing countries, Diarrheal Disease is a major health concern that can easily lead to death.
Two main reasons Diarrheal Diseases are so devastating to untreated victims are:
- The victim’s body fluid stores are depleted, and they are unable to replenish them
- For children, the loss of the fluids and accompanying nutrients negatively impact their growth, and mental development
What Causes Diarrheal Diseases?
There are many paths that can lead to Diarrheal Diseases. Below is an informative image published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of all the possible ways contamination can occur. To summarize the image, diarrhea is contracted by victims through stool-contaminated water, food, and everyday items – many of which people in developing countries have no choice but to use.
What is currently being done about Diarrheal Diseases?
With the help of UNICEF, World Health Organization, numerous researchers, and other strong advocates of the eradication of death through Diarrheal Diseases, mass distributions of Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS: a mix of salts and sugar) have helped reduce deaths by about 2/3 in the past two decades.
The following steps can be taken to help people in developing countries in this battle against Diarrheal diseases:
- Local governments can educate their people on safe food handling practices
- Educate the people on the side-effects of poor hygiene
- Help residents get easy access to clean water
- Improve waste management and sanitation
- Encourage mothers to breast-feed their babies for at least 6-months
- Make vaccination against rotaviruses widely available
- Ensure households have ORS’ available
In a 2006 report on environmental diseases by WHO, it was revealed that Diarrheal Diseases have been on a decline due to “better access to immunization… and essential medicines.” However, this decline hasn’t been fast enough. Many programs are currently in progress to help address this issue, and numerous new machines targeted at providing people in developing countries with access to clean water have popped up.