Diarrhoea causes 1.5 mn infant deaths a year: UN

Last Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 00:00

Geneva: Diarrhoea still claims the lives of
1.5 million children under the age of five a year, UN agencies
warned on Wednesday, as they launched a new campaign against the
ailment.

"It is a tragedy that diarrhoea, which is little more
than an inconvenience in the developed world, kills an
estimated 1.5 million children each year," said Ann Veneman,
executive director of the UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF.)

"Inexpensive and effective treatments for diarrhoea
exist, but in developing countries only 39 per cent of
children with diarrhoea receive the recommended treatment,"
she added.

Close to 18 percent of all deaths among children under
five are due to diarrhoea, largely caused by contaminated
water and infections, said Olivier Fontaine, the World Health
Organisation`s expert on children`s health.

UNICEF and the World Health Organisation today launched a
seven-point plan to prevent and treat diarrhoea, including
replacing body fluids to prevent dehydration, zinc treatment,
promotion of early breastfeeding, and promotion of hand
washing with soap.

According to the WHO, 50 million children have been saved
thanks to the low cost treatment of oral rehydration salts, a
treatment that has been available for the past 25 years.

The simple act of hand washing with soap can reduce the
incidence of diarrhoeal diseases by over 40 percent, added
UNICEF.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 00:00

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