Sometimes it can be difficult in a developed country to remember the suffering that occurs all over the world from the comfy couch of our homes, but recent reports from two different sources, PATH* and WaterAid America* are quick to remind us that the children of this world are dying from problems we scarce need to consider. The reports revealed that little is being done to save children from dying of diarrheal disease in developing countries. The worldwide death count for these easily treatable diseases in children under the age of five is nearly 1.6 million. Inaction is most likely due to poor publicity and utter neglect of the issue by government policymakers.
Solutions are relatively easy and affordable for governments to implement. The most effective way to prevent cases of diarrheal disease is to provide communities with clean drinking water and proper education on hygiene and sanitation procedures. These are common and available resources and practices in developed countries. These safety actions minimize the chance of diarrheal disease caused by bacteria, which is currently the source of most childhood cases. While death by diarrheal disease makes up more than one sixth of child death under the age of five, very little funds go towards implementing solutions. And unfortunately, the severity of most cases are only getting worse.
According to the World Health Organization, each year, 1.7 billion cases of diarrheal disease are diagnosed in children, and every year, it claims the lives of about 525,000 of those affected. As unacceptable as these numbers are, they will only continue to grow unless the people of these governments can unify and enact change. Every process of change starts with education. Knowing the problem inside and out and educating government policymakers on possible solutions. Presenting budget-friendly options is the best way to help the movements gain any traction through government processes.
The landscape for change is not entirely without hope as there was recently a “Call to Action” with the investment of 75 different organizations banding together to call attention to the global concerns of diarrheal diseases and to demand solutions.
It should encourage us that the director of the immunization solutions program at PATH has stated recently in an interview that he is confident that the entire health community knows exactly what needs to be done to spare the lives of millions of children suffering from this preventable disease. His challenge to the global health community is to educate government officials, sponsors, and world leaders about the urgency to implement now. The people should remain adamant of how unacceptable it is to ignore this issue. Findings in the PATH report on this issue stated that there is no other major cause of death for children with more options for prevention and treatment solutions than there is for diarrheal disease. These children are dying for no good reason while the country’s leaders have ample ability to fix the problems before them.
These reports have come to the table at a very opportune time, for the World Health Organization is currently studying findings on vaccines as a way to deter the spread of rotavirus, the most prevalent and deadly diarrheal disease. It is the hope of many that the WHO will determine a worldwide recommendation that every nation incorporates rotavirus vaccinations into childhood immunization schedules.
It should be no surprise that the nations most in need of access to clean water, sanitation procedures and medical care (all things that prevent diarrheal disease) are in Africa and Asia. It is the an international responsibility to support these nations in efforts to end needless childhood death.
The sponsors needed to complete the task exist mainly in organizations in the sectors of health, development, environment, research, and sanitation. These groups need to pull together to raise money for treatment costs and prevention solution costs for this childhood killer. Save the Children and Earth Day Network are just two of the organizations that are already committed to helping destroy this problem. The outlook today doesn’t look good. If the goals of these organizations don’t succeed or progress any time soon, the child survival MDGs will not be obtainable any longer. The medical officer of the department of child and adolescence health and development at the whole has stated that if death rates from this disease persist in spite off how low cost and available the resources needed are, it represents a global scandal, especially on the part of the richest countries in the world who have all the available means necessary to help the nations in Africa and Asia.
Please visit www.path.org to learn more about Diarrheal Disease and what you can do to help. Path is a global nonprofit organization that helps to make sustainable and socially acceptable solutions, empower communities globally to combat standing unhealthy patterns in their cities. They collaborate with many to change the way individuals consider and act as far as well-being.