A new research finding has revealed that nearly half a million (500,000) children under five year die each year from diarrhea illness.
This came to light at the launch of the research report dubbed: “Coordinate, Integrate, Invest: How joint child health and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) interventions can deliver for your country’s future”, in Accra.
According to the findings, more than half of the 500,000 children die as a direct result of the use of dirty water, poor sanitation and unhygienic conditions both at home and in some health facilities.
It further explained that even those who survive multiple bouts of diarrhea are left weakened and sometimes stunted, their long-term development and education compromised.
However, the report mentioned that major health gains are possible to achieve if decision-makers coordinate, integrate, and invest in child health and WASH measures.
It stated that modelling has found that rotavirus vaccination used to immunize children against the most common cause of diarrheal disease combined with hygiene promotion could lead to nearly twice the reduction in child illnesses, and nearly five times the reduction in child deaths than rotavirus vaccination alone.
“Combining clean water, decent household toilets and good hygiene with routine childhood vaccinations and nutrition support could potentially save the lives of many as 697,000 young children annually, and prevent billions of harmful bouts of diarrhoea illness and pneumonia in under-fives each year”, it indicated.
Furthermore, the research pointed out that, ensuring 100% coverage with WASH, rotavirus vaccination and nutritional interventions such as breastfeeding promotion and zinc supplements can potentially reduce illness by nearly two thirds representing 63% and almost half the number of child deaths that is 49% from diarrhea and pneumonia.
However, the Head of Policy and Campaigns at WaterAid, Mr. George Yorke, appealed to government, stakeholders and local and international partners to invest heavily in the WASH sector.
“As the World Health Assembly approaches, world leaders have to ensure that, whenever they are investing in health and nutrition, they should equally invest in WASH, believing such measures may save many lives”, he reiterated.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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