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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs