New strategy to address Diarrheal deaths: the third biggest killer of children
Launch of Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight in New Delhi
The launch of the Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF) which will be held from 28th July to 8th August across the county was attended by Shri Lov Verma, Union Secretary Health & Family Welfare, Shri R.K Jain, Additional Secretary & DG, Director General of Health Services Professor Jagdish Prasad, Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Mr. Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative, Dr. Nata Menabde, Country Chief, WHO India and representatives from various development organization including Micronutrient Initiative and representative from Indian Academy of Pediatrics.
“Building on the good progress that India has already made in reducing child deaths, the Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight will mobilize health personnel, state governments and other stakeholders to prioritize investment in control of diarrhea—one of the most common childhood illnesses. It aims to create mass awareness about the most effective and low-cost diarrhoea treatment— a combination of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) solution and Zinc tablets,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, speaking on the occasion.
The Secretary Health & Family Welfare in his address said that India has realized impressive gains in child survival over the last two decades. There has been a consistent decline in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Under-Five Mortality Rate (U5MR). Increased access to immunization and child healthcare services during this period, have greatly contributed to this decline. Yet, an estimated 1.36 million children die each year in India, including approximately 2 lakh deaths due to diarrhoea.
In the welcome address by Mr. R.K. Jain, Additional Secretary said that this intensified diarrhea control fortnight is being supported by other ministries of the Government of India, especially the Education, Panchayati Raj Institutions, Women and Child Development and Water and Sanitation.
The Joint Secretary Dr. Rakesh Kumar and Professor Mathuram Santosham from John Hopkins , USA made a comprehensive presentation describing the global scenario as well as the details of the fortnight. Dr. Rakesh Kumar explained that during the fortnight, intensified community awareness campaigns on hygiene and age-appropriate childhood feeding practices and promotion of ORS and Zinc therapy will be conducted at state, district and village levels. The focus will be on diarrhea control activities during the first week and on infant and young child feeding practices (IYCF) during the second week. ORS-Zinc Corners will be set-up at health care facilities. Health workers will hold counselling sessions on appropriate methods of Infant and Young Child feeding practices, hygiene and sanitation.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative said, “This national campaign to fight diarrhoea - the third deadliest illness for children – will re-energize efforts to prevent the deaths of millions of children in the country. IDCF targets to reduce mortality rates and raise levels of children’s access to life-saving interventions.”
Emphasizing that diarrhoea is preventable and also treatable, Dr. Nata Menabde, WHO Chief in India said “Many children in the developing world cannot access urgent medical care for severe illnesses, making prevention methods—including improved hygiene, sanitation, safe drinking water, exclusive breastfeeding-
MoHFW has made it a national priority to bring health outcomes among children to a level equitable with the rest of the world. WHO, UNICEF, and other partners have been working closely with the Government to help realize this vision.