With 13 children under the age of five succumbing to diarrhoea every hour in India, the Health Ministry yesterday launched intensified efforts to check such deaths, a move which comes with the onset of monsoon during which a spurt in such cases have been noticed.

 To be observed from 11-23 July, the Health Ministry yesterday launched the nationwide ‘Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight’ (IDCF) under which various activities have been planned including visits by ASHA workers to all such households which have children under the age of five.
The children will be administered ORS by the ASHA workers while they will also be counselled about the benefits and the process of preparing it.

According to figures of the Health Ministry, in India, about 1.2 lakh children under the age of five succumb to diarrhoea every year. This translates to 328 diarrhoea deaths every day and 13 every hour.

“ASHA workers will visit all households with children below five years of age for pre-positioning the ORS. They will explain its benefits. The importance of this activity is that ORS will be available in the household when needed at the time of diarrhoea. Secondly, all health facilities shall have ORS corners which shall continuously demonstrate the way to prepare the ORS mixture.

“These corners will also administer ORS and Zinc to children who are in need of these during diarrhoea. With a sharpened focus on demand generation, an important component of the IDCF is IEC activities that shall not only create awareness but also generate demand,” Health Ministry Additional secretary C K Mishra told reporters.

He said that the intensified community awareness campaigns on hygiene and promotion of ORS and Zinc therapy will be conducted at the state, district and village levels.

According to the Health Ministry, although various virus, bacteria and protozoa like rotavirus, E.Coli amongst others cause diarrhoea, the main reasons for diarrhoeal attacks amongst children are contaminated water, malnutrition, inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and lack of immunization.

The Ministry said that there are around 10 crore children below five years of age across the country and last year, due to the interventions carried out as part of IDCF, about 6.3 crore children were reached.
This year in order to expand the cover of this fortnight, the target is to cover all the under-5 children, officials said.

During last year’s fortnight, 21 lakh children could be prevented from hospitalisation and death due to Diarrhoea, Mishra said. He said that more than five lakh schools participated in the IDCF campaign while more than 3.5 lakh ORS corners were set up in the country.