Dr Mrs Gifty Gyimah-Asare, Specialist Pediatrician, Ledzokuku Krowor Municipal Assembly (LEKMA) Hospital on Thursday intimated that about 10 to 15 per cent of children die from diarrhoea yearly.
As a result, diarrhoea is regarded as one of the top three childhood killer diseases.
She noted that diarrhea was not only regarded as a childhood killer disease but can also cause malnutrition and stunted growth in children if it becomes chronic.
Dr Gyimah -Asare said this during a media briefing and launch of the Oral Rehydration Salt +zinc in the treatment of childhood diarrhoea, at Teshie near Accra.
The ORS + Zinc Treatment of Childhood Diarrhoea campaign seeks to advocate for the addition of zinc tablets to Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) in the treatment of diarrhoea in children.
The Specialist Pediatrician said the new treatment would help reduce the duration and severity of diarrhoea and could also prevent further occurrences for up to three months.
She noted that hitherto the use of only ORS prevented diarrhoea for the period for which the drug was administered.
The product was introduced unto the Ghanaian market by the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
She said research had shown that treatment of uncomplicated diarrhoea in children under five with 10 days of Zinc tablets plus the ORS treatment could avert over 20 per cent of worldwide childhood deaths.
“Using ORS only saves children’s lives, but does not seem to have much effect on the length of time the children suffer diarrhoea, nor would it have any effect in strengthening a child’s resistance to sever episode in the future”, she noted.
She appealed to parents to use the new diarrhoea treatment prescription as it would help the country achieve MDG 4 which seeks to reduce by 2/3 the rate of childhood mortality by 2015.
She noted that the drug which been manufactured by local pharmaceutical companies was already on the market and was affordable.
She advised parents not to relent on feeding their children properly while administering the ORS + Zinc treatment.
Dr Gyimah-Asare said the new drug was available in all chemical and health facilities across the country and comes in a blister pack of 10 tablets.
“There is a 10mg per tablet dose for children under six months and 20mg per tablet dose for older children”, she said.
Dr Mrs Gloria Quansah Asare, Director, Family Health Services, GHS, advised nursing mothers to observe the six months exclusive breast feeding as it was one of the means of significantly reducing the incidence of diarrhoea in children.
She urged mothers to observe good environmental and personal hygiene to avoid contracting diarrhoea and cholera as the rainy season approached.
She said the introduction of the zinc tablet with ORS was a recommendation from the UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, based on extensive research.
“Health workers have received updates and training continues to support caregivers in adopting the use of zinc in diarrhoea treatment”, she said.
She assured the general public of the safety of the drugs, and urged them to follow instruction as with all drugs to avoid adverse effects.
Dr Ian Tweedie, Chief of Party, USAID Behaviour Change Support (BCS) Project, noted that data indicated that since the zinc tablet was introduced unto the market in 2012, over ten million of it had been distributed.
“This indicates that roughly, one million children have received quick and effective treatment for their diarrhoea.
He said the USAID Behaviour Change Support project was initiated in order to help people live more healthy lives and avoid preventable diseases.
He urged parents to endeavour to vaccinate their children with the new rotavirus vaccine which had been introduced unto the Ghanaian market to prevent diarrhoea among children.
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