Diarrhea robs children of their life potential and perpetuates inequities. We need to intensify our commitment to research and primary health care approaches that encompass prevention and treatment efforts for diarrheal disease – in the community, the home, and in the clinic.
- Miren Iturriza-Gomara, Rotavirus vaccines initiative lead, PATH
Children living in poverty are subjected to an onslaught of environmental pathogens every day. These pathogens cause diarrhea and other asymptomatic infections, leading to chronic gut inflammation and putting children at risk of future infections and malnutrition.
Diarrhea is also expensive. When a family has to spend its savings on emergency medical treatment and travel logistics to get that treatment, the family will have less money for other essentials like food, rent, or education. Additionally, when a caretaker has to take time off work to care for a sick child, they may lose wages or business opportunities. All these contribute to the vicious cycle of ill health and poverty.
The trends in recent years include both progress and persisting inequities alike. Deaths from diarrhea declined from more than 1 million among children under five years in 1990 to less than half a million in 2019. Yet children in poor communities bear the brunt of the remaining burden, and too many surviving children are held back because of persistent, repeated infections.
Diarrhea is not a new issue and remains a chronic problem in low- and middle-income countries; it is one of many menacing health threats competing for attention and funding.
For children in poor communities, diarrhea remains a major cause of death and can lead to lasting consequences. Simple and proven tools can prevent and treat diarrhea, and integrating them achieves the greatest impact. By joining these tools and our voices together, we can protect children everywhere from diarrheal disease.
The report that follows is a comprehensive resource with the latest research and evidence on diarrheal disease and the solutions available to prevent and control it. It will be regularly updated as new information emerges. It is intended to be used by advocates (including scientists, academics, and researchers), donors, multilaterals, and national government leaders to take action and join the movement to defeat diarrheal disease.Continue to The Challenge