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One Fifths Of Child Deaths Due To Diarrhea In The World Are In India

India's child diarrheal mortality rate is substantially higher than other comparable developing countries like Bangladesh and China.

One Fifths Of Child Deaths Due To Diarrhea In The World Are In India

Diarrhea is the third leading cause of childhood mortality in India

India records a higher number of child deaths due to diarrheal disease all over the world. Diarrhea is the third leading cause of childhood mortality in India after birth complications and pneumonia. India contributes over 1 lakh child deaths in 2015 alone, globally according to a new report new in the medical journal Lancet.

Deaths from diarrhea in children under the age of 5 declined by 34.3% globally between 2005 and 2015, in India the rate of reduction was an even faster - 43.2% but India still continues to contribute the most child deaths due to diarrheal disease.

According to a new Global Burden of Disease study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, India and Nigeria are responsible for 42% of child deaths on account of diarrheal disease, but Nigeria's progress was slower than India's between 2005 and 2015. Countries like Bangladesh with 60.4% and China 71% did much more to reduce child mortality from diarrhea.

"Diarrheal diseases disproportionately affect young children," lead author Dr Ali Mokdad, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, USA, said.


"Despite some promising reductions in mortality, the devastating impact of these diseases cannot be overlooked. Immediate and sustained actions must be taken to help low-income countries address this problem by increasing healthcare access and the use of oral rehydration solutions," Dr Mokdad added.

Diarrheal diseases are primarily caused as a result of poor access to clean water and sanitation. Globally, diarrhea is the fourth biggest killer of children under the age of five. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrheal disease among infants and young children. It is a genus of double-stranded RNA viruses in the family Reoviridae.

But the Lancet report also notes that diarrhea from other parasites is also on the rise. Rotavirus vaccine is available as part of immunisation programme in India, but it is not yet available in all states. The report suggests the development of more vaccines against the other parasites that cause diarrhea.

"More thorough understanding of each cause of diarrhea and how this varies geographically will help target interventions to reduce death and disability from these preventable diseases. A greater focus on vaccine development and more intentional improvements in safe water, sanitation, and hygiene will help accelerate reductions in deaths and sickness," Dr. Mokdad said.

India's child diarrheal mortality rate is substantially higher than other comparable developing countries like Bangladesh (25) and China (2.3). However it is considerably lower than the worst hit sub-Saharan African countries. India lost 84 children to diarrheal disease for every 100,000 in 2015 as compared to Chad with 594 and Niger with 485 deaths.

Key measures to prevent diarrhea include

  • Access to safe drinking-water
  • Use of improved sanitation
  • Hand washing with soap
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life
  • Good personal and food hygiene
  • Health education about how infections spread
  • Rotavirus vaccination
(Inputs from The Huffingtonpost)
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