News / Health

Most Diarrhea Deaths Preventable, Study Finds

Existing tools could save a million children a year

Women fetch water at the site of a borehole in Dertu, Kenya. The microbes that cause diarrhea spread through contaminated food and water, or through poor hygiene and sanitation.
Women fetch water at the site of a borehole in Dertu, Kenya. The microbes that cause diarrhea spread through contaminated food and water, or through poor hygiene and sanitation.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

More than a million young children die each year from diarrhea, even though there's no secret about how to prevent or treat it. Now, public health experts report that the vast majority of those deaths could be prevented using currently available strategies.

The microbes that cause diarrheal disease spread through contaminated food and water, or through poor hygiene and sanitation.

Interventions from water and sewage systems to antibiotics and oral rehydration therapy have brought the death toll down from 4.5 million children a year in the early 1980s to about 1.3 million now. But further reductions have proved challenging, says Ingrid Friberg of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

"The reason that this is a problem is not because we don't know what we can do; there are lots of things that we can do," she says. "It's more a matter of the cost and trying to figure out how to actually implement and make it happen in different countries."

Friberg is a co-author of a new report based on computer software that projects the impact of increased use of various interventions.

"With a conservative level of scale-up of 10 different interventions, we would be able to reduce the number of deaths by about 78 percent, to less than 400,000 [per year], compared to the 1.6 million that we're predicting in about the year 2015 if nothing else changes."

The software, called the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) projects the impact of each anti-diarrhea intervention on a country-by-country basis. Some of the simplest and cheapest ones can be extremely effective. Oral rehydration therapy costs just pennies, while others, like rotavirus vaccine, or building clean water systems, do cost more.

Friberg says she and her co-authors hope the new report will be used in a variety of ways. For example, it might help persuade donors to ramp up funding for anti-diarrhea programs.

"The other thing it's trying to do is to remind people who are solely focused on new interventions that there's a lot that we can do that's already available. We don't need to develop new things; we can use what we know," she says.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
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.

AppleAndroid