Better Data Helps Defeat Diarrhea and Could Save Half a Million Kids – But We Need to Act Fast | Source: Huffington Post, Sept 27, 2016 | by Anita Zaidi , Director, Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases (EDD) program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
When I was a young girl in Pakistan, my mother would remind me daily to only drink boiled water. We almost lost my sister to severe diarrhea and my mother was determined to make sure this didn’t happen to our family again.
Back then, I didn’t fully understand her. It wasn’t until years later, when I became a pediatrician and a child health researcher, that I realized how deadly watery stools can be.
Unlike for adults, the rapid loss of liquids caused by severe diarrhea can bring children and babies to the brink of death in a matter of hours.
Last year alone, over half a million children under five died from diarrheal diseases – that’s more than one every minute. And for those that survive, the resulting rapid dehydration and metabolic disturbances can lead to long-term damage to the gut and increased risk of malnutrition.
The sad truth is that the ripple effects of something as seemingly simple as a case of childhood diarrhea often extend far beyond health: children miss out on school, treatment costs can drive their families into poverty and in many countries, nursing a sick kid back to health can use up resources that are needed for other essentials like food or education.
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