Diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection leading causes of death in children under 5

first_imgDiarrhoea and acute respiratory infection have been identified as the two leading causes of mortality in children under five, a United Nations Children’s Funds report revealed.While diarrhoea is a leading cause of death among children under five worldwide, it is not isolated from Guyana. The report stated that most diarrhoea-related deaths in children are due to dehydration from loss of large quantities of water and electrolytes from the body in liquid stools. However, proper management of diarrhoea – either through oral rehydration salts (ORS) or a recommended home fluid (RHF) – can prevent such occurrences.The report revealed that children living in the interior of the country have three times more chance of having diarrhoea than those living in urban areas. Episodes of diarrhoea are also more frequent in Regions 7, 8 and 9. Likewise, 21 per cent of the children living in Amerindian communities had diarrhoea.Cases of diarrhoea, the report said, are directly related to inadequate access to proper water and sanitation, and to poor hygienic habits in the family. It indicated that access to improved sources of drinking water and improved sanitation are smaller for those families living in the interior of the country, for the poorest families, and the Amerindians: the same three characteristics that surround those families whose children under 5 present the higher episodes of diarrhoea.According to the 2014 MICS results, 61 per cent of the mothers who reported their children had diarrhoea sought advice from a health facility. “Number can be low since mothers might not see the need to look for medical advice as the condition might happen frequently, and, consequently, be considered normal.”Meanwhile, acute respiratory infection (ARI) is one of the leading causes of death in children under five globally. In Guyana, 31 per cent of the children dying below the age of 1 are related to respiratory infections, and 5 per cent were identified as ARI.Among different acute respiratory diseases, the report indicated that pneumonia is the most serious for young children. It stated that identification of cases of pneumonia and other respiratory infections are limited since suspected cases might not be real cases. In terms of ethnicity, 4.5% of the children living in Amerindian families presented ARI symptoms, the highest number among all ethnicities identified in the country.It added that 84 per cent of children aged 0-59 months with symptoms of ARI were taken to a qualified provider—great majority were taken to a public health facility (77 per cent), while much smaller proportions were taken to a private health facility (12 per cent).While it indicated that ARIs are caused by viruses and bacteria, which are almost impossible to avoid, certain risk factors increase the chances of young children to develop the infection.“Poor water and sanitation in the households, and the lack of hygiene at home can increase the chances that children are affected by respiratory infections. Also, the fact that some children are not fully vaccinated can weaken the immune system, increasing the chances that common respiratory infections can develop into more severe diseases,” it added.UNICEF noted that somehow all these factors are present in Guyana and those children living in poor families, in the interior of the country, and/or coming from Amerindian families, have higher chances of susceptibility to stronger infections and, “consequently, have their health affected to the point where they are in danger of dying.”last_img

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