Diarrhoea is the third leading cause of death of children who are under the age of five years in India. The disease is responsible for around 13% of the deaths each year of children under the age of five years.
In between the years 2001 and 2012 India could bring down the deaths in children who are younger than five years by one million from around 2.5 million in 2001 to around 1.5 million in 2012. Despite all the efforts India still sees deaths of around 3 lakh children each year due to diarrhoea.
The government of India has thus decided to focus on the disease and recently launched countrywide "Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF)". The IDCF will be observed from 11th to 23rd July across the country.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under the leadership of Minister J P Nadda also unveiled a package of measures putting the Government's resolve to end child diarrhoea deaths on the overdrive.
As directed by the Health Minister Shri J P Nadda to reach out to the under-five children, the timing of theprogramme is very critical as this is just the onset of monsoon and diarrhoea is beginning to show up.
Activities that shall be part of the Diarrhoea Control Fortnight:
Various activities shall form part of this fortnight.
1. ASHAs shall visit all households with children below five years of age for pre-positioning the ORS. They shall also explain the benefits of these. The importance of this activity is that ORS will be available in the household when needed at the time of diarrhoea. It is often observed that during critical stages of diarrhoea, ORS is not available in the households.
2. Secondly, all health facilities shall have ORS corners which shall continuously demonstrate the way to prepare the ORS mixture. These corners will also administer ORS and Zinc to children who are in need of these during diarrhoea.
3. With a sharpened focus on demand generation, an important component of the IDCF is IEC activities that shall not only create awareness but also generate demand. Intensified community awareness campaigns on hygiene and promotion of ORS and Zinc therapy will be conducted at the state, district and village levels.
Success of previous IDCF:
There are about 10 crore children below five years of age across the country. During last year, due to the interventions carried out as part of IDCF, about 6.3 crore children were reached out to.
21 Lakh children could be prevented from hospitalisation and death due to Diarrhoea last year.
More than 5 lakh schools participated in the IDCF campaign and more than 3.5 lakh ORS corners were set up in the country.
Target for current IDCF:
This year in order to expand the cover of this fortnight, the target is to cover all the under-5 children.
In order to ensure a sturdy mechanism for monitoring, this year, 23 national monitors shall assess the efficacy of the activities. This shall be complemented by monitors from the State governments and development partners.
"The combination of ORS and Zinc has been found to be the most cost-effective intervention to prevent deaths due to diarrhoea and has been recognised as one of the best practices globally", this message will be spread across India.