On the occasion of ORS day today, I chose to write this article today.
Yesterday on 28th July 2014, I attended ‘Nationwide Launch of Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight Programme’, an event that aimed to galvanize a social movement towards Health and it was themed around Diarhhoea. The event took place at Jacaranda, Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi. I am grateful to UNICEF for extending an invitation to me.
The event was flagged off by Honorable Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. Other key members were Secretary Shri Lov Verma, Director General Health Services-Dr. Jagdish Prasad, Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Prof. Mahuram Santosham, Unicef Representative to India- Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault and WHO representative- Dr. Nata Menabde.
A national campaign has been launched to fight diarrhoea- the third deadliest illness for children.
I learnt some shocking numbers there. Out of 6.6 million children that die globally, 1.36 million children die in India. The number of deaths caused by diarrhoea every year is equally very alarming for the country. 29% deaths are caused due to diarrhoea. Over 2 lakh children under the age of five die due to it. Of the five countries that lose large number of their children due to diarrhoea, India leads before Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Basically its 564 diarrhoeal deaths taking place every day, almost like a jumbo jet crashing every day under our nose.
Everyone present in the room had the same thought that the need of the hour is to fight this killer disease on war footing. This Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight is being celebrated from 28th July to 8th August to create mass awareness about most effective and low cost diarrhoea treatment. In the two weeks, home visits will be done by ASHA workers to distribute ORS + Zinc packets. The best practice is to use a combination of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) solution and Zinc tablets.
Honestly, I was aware of the ORS solution but I came to know about Zinc only yesterday.
Things that everyone needs to know and we need to spread the word are….
Diarrhoea is basically about two things. Lose bowel movements and dehydration of the body. This leads to loss of essential minerals and salts from the baby’s body and can be fatal.
Sanitation is very important. Hygienic conditions need to be maintained.
Prevention methods must be known to one and all. Improved hygiene, sanitation, safe drinking water, exclusive breast feeding. Ofcourse for all this economic improvements are also needed. Proper living conditions have to be made available to poor. A large percentage of our population does not even have access to clean water.
New interactions and ideas have to be used to reach out to people. School children can go around their colonies to educate the new mothers, campaigning can be done in mosques and gurudwaras.
Dr. Jagdish Prasad said that media should come forward to spread the word.
Mr. Harsh Vardhan emotionally touched the chords when he said that a child falling ill in any family affects the parents most and those who lose their children to such fateful diseases undergo through the worse. Thus, they will ensure that ORS should be available in every house so the condition of the child does not deteriorate.
He also said that if we educate the poor mother around us and tell her that ORS + ZInc can save her baby, she will go to all extends to procure it and do everything to save her child. Very rightly said.
The disease can be won over just like Polio has been ousted from the country.
UNICEF, WHO and other partners will be working closely with the Government to eradicate this fatal disease.
No doubt lives of 50 million children have been saved globally in the last 30 years.