New Delhi: The study estimates that for every 1,000 children born in India, 61 are unlikely to make it to their fifth birthday and here diarrhea is the second leading killer of children. Estimates show that over 1.2 lakh children, less than five years of age, succumb to diarrhea every year. The primary reasons for diarrheal attacks among children are contaminated water and food, malnutrition, inadequate sanitation and lack of immunization.
Diarrhea is responsible for 13% of all deaths/year in children under 5 years of age. Information on diarrheal diseases, its determinants and preventive and control strategies need to be reviewed for better planning and organization of health services. Nearly one in five children under the age of five dies as a result of dehydration, weakened immunity or malnutrition associated with diarrhea.
“It may not be possible to stop incidence of diarrhea by intervention, we can prevent deaths from it,” CK Mishra, additional secretary to the health ministry said, while launching ‘Intensified Diarrhea Control Fortnight 2016’. The initiative is aimed at targeted intervention for diarrhea across the country through trained health workers.
By distribution of ORS and ORS Zinc (given specially to children who are already suffering from diarrhea), the government has managed to prevent around 21 lakh hospitalization and deaths in last one year. In India, only 54.4% children suffering from diarrhea receive ORS, whereas 30% of children are malnourished and are therefore, at an increased risk of getting the infection. But still India has made steady progress in reducing deaths in children younger than 5 years, with total deaths declining from 2.5 million in 2001 to 1.5 million in 2012. This remarkable reduction was possible due to the inception and success of many universal programs like expanded program on immunization, program for the control of diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infection. Even though the deaths among children under five years have declined, the proportional mortality accounted by diarrheal diseases still remains high.