Diarrhoea in Africa

by 02/11/2012 11:38:00 0 comments 974 Views
Diarrhoea in Africa

Diarrhoea is defined as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual). Frequent passing of formed stools is not diarrhoea, nor is the passing of loose, “pasty” stools by breastfed babies.

Diarrhoea can last several days, and can leave the body without the water and salts that are necessary for survival if caution is not used. Most people who die from diarrhoea actually die from severe dehydration and fluid loss not from the disease itself. Malnourished children or children who have impaired immunity are most at risk of life-threatening diarrhoea.

What causes this disease in Africa?

Diarrhoeal disease is caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking-water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene. This is one of the most common diseases in the world and strikes many Africa children. Often times it is passed very quickly through populations without much water supply as is the case in cholera. More than 2 billion people contract some sort of diarrhea each year. There are more than 1.5 million children killed by this disease every year. If someone has a healthy immune system, diarrhoeal disease should pass quickly with appropriate treatment.

What can be done?

Diarrhoea is another disease which is fully preventable and treatable! Prevention is easily managed through hand washing. Hands should be washed after using the bathroom, before cooking, before eating, and after changing a baby’s diaper. Worms can also be a case of diarrhea.

The first line treatment is a simple oral rehydration therapy commonly called ORT. The most basic type is a mixture of clean water, sugar or honey, and salt. With the addition of nutritional porridge made up of multiple grains, this can be a life saving technique to cure children. Packaged ORTs are available which give more vitamins. Most worms can be treated by taking a dewormer medication such as Mebendazole tablets, recommended for everyone every three to six months. In the case of amoebas Flagyl is widely prescribed.