News / Health

New Research Finds Gap in Diarrhea Care of African Children

Hassana Ousmane rHassana Ousmane rests her head against the bed where 21-month-old Zeinab, suffering from diarrhea, rests, Princess Marie Louise Children's Hospital, Accra, April 25, 2012.sts her head against the bed where her 21-month-old daughter Zeinab
Hassana Ousmane rHassana Ousmane rests her head against the bed where 21-month-old Zeinab, suffering from diarrhea, rests, Princess Marie Louise Children's Hospital, Accra, April 25, 2012.sts her head against the bed where her 21-month-old daughter Zeinab

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
New research recently published online by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene finds that young children suffering from diarrheal diseases are less likely to receive life-saving oral rehydration therapy (ORT) when seeking treatment in private clinics. 
 
This first-ever, large-scale study of child diarrhea treatment practices in sub-Saharan Africa found that closing the gap between public and private clinics with regard to access to ORT could each year save the lives of 20,000 children under 5 years of age. 
 
The nine-year study followed the treatment received by 19,000 children in 29 African nations and found that one-fourth of all of the patients sought treatment at private clinics which are less likely to offer the simple inexpensive therapy. The study found that in sub-Saharan Africa, Chad was the only country where private clinics did better in providing ORT over public clinics.
 
Zachary Wagner, a co-author of the study, described two factors that motivated the study. 
 
“The first is that there are hundreds of thousands of children that die from diarrhea each year,” said Wagner, who is a doctoral student in public health at the University of California-Berkeley.  “And this is particularly tragic because there is a very effective and very cheap treatment for diarrhea that prevents death. It’s called oral rehydration salts, (ORS), or oral rehydration therapy.”
 
ORT is effective because it basically prevents the dehydration caused by diarrhea, which is usually what kills the child.
 
“This treatment is just widely under-used.  That’s why so many children continue to die. It’s been around since the 60s, yet it is still widely under-used,” Wagner noted.
 
Private clinics grow in popularity
 
The fact that so many children with diarrhea and diarrheal diseases seek treatment at private clinics was another motivation for the study.
 
“The private health sector is becoming more and more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, and throughout the developing world,” says Wagner. “So, understanding what kind of care is being provided in the private sector is really important.”
 
He and the research team set out to understand how care for diarrhea in the private sector compared to care for diarrhea in the public sector. 
 
“We found that ORS - this really important treatment - was way less likely to be provided in the private sector for child diarrhea, than the public sector,” he explained.
 
Wagner says oral rehydration salts are widely available and distributed to developing countries. It is a well-known treatment among development organizations such as the World Health Organization, and NGOs that  have promoted the use of the inexpensive and life-saving therapy for treating diarrhea. There is no reason why private clinics should not be using ORT.
 
“If a child has diarrhea, it is important that the mother or caretaker, takes them to a provider.  So, ORS is really important, and it’s really cheap.  And they can access it themselves, but it is important to understand how to use it.”
 
The researcher highlighted the important role private health care providers are now playing in sub-Saharan Africa, and a simple solution of salt packets is a major solution to child mortality.  He also said parents and caregivers must make sure children with diarrhea get the care they need to survive.
 
“So, they should definitely seek care. And they should always give their child this ORS.  The World Health Organization recommends that all children with diarrhea, regardless of illness severity, receive this solution after every loose stool,” said Wagner.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid