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UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reviews the new joint UNICEF/WHO report on preventing and treating diarrhea.
Tags:Treating Child Diarrhea in Developing Countries,danger of diarrhea,Eliminating Child Diarrhea in Developing Countries,preventing diarrhea in developing countries,treating diarrhea in developing countries,unicef,united nations childrens fund
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Eliminating Child Diarrhea in Developing Countries
Elizabeth Keim: Fewer than 40% of children in developing countries get adequate treatment when they contract diarrhea. As a result, more children die of the disease than of AIDS, measles and malaria combined.
Every year, an estimated 1.5 million children die of dehydration, poor nutrition or compromised immune system associated with diarrhea. But the disease is rarely acknowledged as the leading killer it is.
Clarissa Brocklehurst: It’s a disappointment to many of us that diarrhea has slipped so much, given that it is such a huge factor in child survival and it’s a bit of a mystery as to why that has happened. Of course other diseases have come in and caught the spotlight. What it means is that the spending on the ways to reduce diarrheal disease is completely disproportionate to its impact.
Elizabeth Keim: A new report from UNICEF and the World Health Organization presents a seven-point plan to reduce the burden of diarrhea particularly in developing Africa and South Asia. The report highlights the use of oral re-hydration salts and zinc to combat dehydration.
Oral rehydration salts, one of the major medical advancements of the 20th century have been improved. Recent data shows that when coupled with zinc, their rehydration power is significantly boosted. But zinc is still largely unavailable in the countries that need it.
The same is true of a new vaccine that has the potential to eliminate the main cause of disease, the rotavirus vaccine.
Mark Young: It's affordable by our standards but it is a rather expensive vaccine when you talk about the millions of children that will need it in India, in Bangladesh, in Ethiopia. So there is definitely a cost involved donors will have to step up to the plate to be sure that the funding is there.
Elizabeth Keim: Other measures to reduce diarrhea, like promoting breastfeeding and hand washing are already in place and need to be scaled up. Still others, improving water supply and sanitation infrastructure, demand more financial investment. It's an investment we can't afford not to make.
I'm Elizabeth Keim for UNICEF Television, Unite for Children.