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Diarrhoea - why children are still dying and what can be done, UNICEF/WHO 2009

Dremains the second leading cause of death among children
under five globally. Nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million
each year – is due to diarrhoea. It kills more young children than AIDS,
malaria and measles combined.
In 2006, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health
Organization (WHO) issued a report highlighting the most common cause
of death among children (Pneumonia: The Forgotten Killer of Children). The
purpose was to raise the profile of that neglected disease. This report is written
with the same intent – to focus attention on the prevention and management
of diarrhoeal diseases as central to improving child survival. Together, pneumonia
and diarrhoea are responsible for an estimated 40 per cent of all child
deaths around the world each year.
There are lessons to be learned from past experience. An international commitment
to tackle childhood diarrhoea in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in a major
reduction in child deaths. This came about largely through the scaling up of
oral rehydration therapy, coupled with programmes to educate caregivers on
its appropriate use. But these efforts lost momentum as the world turned its
attention to other global emergencies. Today, only 39 per cent of children with
diarrhoea in developing countries receive the recommended treatment, and
limited trend data suggest that there has been little progress since 2000.
This report examines the latest available information on the burden and distribution
of childhood diarrhoea. It also analyses how well countries are doing in
making available key interventions proven to reduce its toll. Most importantly, it
lays out a new strategy for diarrhoea control, one that is based on interventions
drawn from different sectors that have demonstrated potential to save children’s
lives. It sets out a 7-point plan that includes a treatment package to reduce
childhood diarrhoea deaths, as well as a prevention package to make a lasting
reduction in the diarrhoea burden in the medium to long term.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Children's Fund
Cluster(s)/Sector(s): 
Original Publication Date: 
15 Jun 2009
Document type: 
Technical Document