UNICEF: Washing hands could reduce diarrhoea deaths by 40%

Washing hands with soap after defecation could check up to 40% deaths caused by diarrhoea in children, a UNICEF analysis suggests.

The UNICEF analysis also says that washing hands properly could prove to be the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections, which claim lives of millions of children.

Working to bring about a behavioural change in the mindset of people towards sanitation for building a healthier society, UNICEF sanitation specialist, Nagendra Singh today said that as per the analysis, handwashing can be a critical measure in controlling pandemic outbreaks of respiratory infections by 55%.

In order to wash your hands thoroughly, you should use warm water, and scrub your fingers, the fronts and backs of your hands and in between your fingers with soap for at least 20 seconds.

In order to wash your hands thoroughly, you should use warm water, and scrub your fingers, the fronts and backs of your hands and in between your fingers with soap for at least 20 seconds.

In China, it has been proved that promotion and distribution of soap in primary schools resulted in reducing absenteeism by 54%.

Singh pointed out that a recent study has shown that proper handwashing by birth attendants and mothers significantly increased the survival rates of new-born children by 44%.

Stating that ensuring proper sanitation both in the rural and urban areas is the biggest challenge, UNICEF water, environment and sanitation specialist Amit Mehrotra said that one gram human excreta has one lakh virus and themagnitude of infection can be imagined in a place where 65% people still defecate in the open.

Unicef-UN: Vaccines, hygiene could stop diarrhea deaths

LONDON – Diarrhea causes one in five child deaths across the world but getting important vaccines to Africa and Asia could help save many lives, two U.N. agencies said on Wednesday.

Some 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhea, — more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined — yet only 39 percent of children with diarrhea in developing countries get the right treatment, the World Health Organization and the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF said in a report.

Vaccinations against rotavirus, the leading cause of severe gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhea in babies and children, as well as better sanitation and proper rehydration treatment would help solve the problem, they said.

Vaccines, hygiene could stop diarrhea deaths: U.N - Reuters

Vaccines, hygiene could stop diarrhea deaths: U.N - Reuters

Rotavirus causes around 40 percent of hospital admissions from diarrhea in children under five worldwide, according to the report, and vaccination against it has recently been recommended for all national immunization programs.

Only a few, mostly developed and richer nations include rotavirus vaccine in routine childhood immunization programs, but the WHO has been working to make two vaccines — Rotateq from Merck & Co and Rotarix from GlaxoSmithKline — more widely available in developing countries.

“Accelerating its introduction in Africa and Asia, where the rotavirus burden is greatest, needs to become an international priority,” said the report.

It also said two mainstays of diarrhea treatment — zinc supplements and low-osmolarity oral rehydration salts — are still hard to come by in many poorer countries.

“We know what works to reduce child deaths from diarrhea and what actions will make a lasting reduction in the burden of diarrhea,” Tessa Wardlaw of UNICEF and Elizabeth Mason of the WHO said in a commentary in The Lancet medical journal.

“We need to make the prevention and treatment of diarrhea everybody’s business, from families and communities to government leaders to the global community.”

More than 80 percent of child deaths due to diarrhea occur in Africa and South Asia and just 15 countries account for almost three quarters of all deaths from diarrhea among children under five each year. India has the highest number of annual deaths at 386,600.

The report set an action plan to try prevent more childhood deaths from diarrhea. It stressed that simple steps like encouraging hand washing, promoting breastfeeding for small babies, and discouraging open defecation were crucial.

“Nearly one in four people in developing countries practice open defecation,” the authors said. “And despite some recent progress, only 37 percent of infants in developing countries are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.”

An estimated 88 per cent of diarrheal deaths worldwide are due to unsafe water and poor sanitation or hygiene, they added.

By Kate Kelland – Reuters