Diarrhoea is a Killer

Manar Darkazanli

Graduation GCH- GWU

Lyons, K. (2017, June 02). Diarrhoea kills half a million children globally, shows Lancet study. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jun/02/diarrhoea-kills-half-a-million-children-globally-shows-lancet-study


Description of the global health issue/problem what is being done or could be done to address the global health issue discussed:

This guardian article reported a study by the Lancet, which found that globally, nearly 500,000 children died in 2015 despite a 34% reduction between 2005 to 2015. The authors called for an acute response to this global health issue which is disproportionately causing the premature death of children under five when compared to the overall death toll caused by diarrhea. The main cause of this high mortality rate has been attributed to poor sanitation and unsafe water. This has been further complicated by poor access to healthcare. Rotavirus and cryptosporidium are the leading causes of death from diarrhea. Higher rates of rotavirus vaccinations uptake in a number of countries showed a reduction of 44% in deaths, which has evoked a call for more focus on this preventative measure. There appears to be a higher proportion affected in developing countries, however this correlation has been offset by a relative increase in the number of diarrheal deaths in developed countries. (Lyons, 2017)

Key organizations or people involved in address the issue:

This study was funded by the Bill and Melinda gates foundation and carried out by researchers at the University of Washington’s institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, led by Dr. Ali Mokdad. WaterAid is a major international NGO which provided a response to this research urging further action to help reduce this mortality figure. (Lyons, 2017)


This research provides a snapshot of a global health problem which has existed for many years and often attributed to poverty despite some cases of modest success. Poor data from sub-Saharan Africa may provide higher mortality figures however it does fall short in addressing other causative factors attributable to these high figures which stem from political instability, military conflicts, corruption and lack of international coordinated response by aid agencies and government. One example is the extremely high rates of cholera currently afflicting war torn Yemen which is affecting many children as well as adults. As this study was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which has a vested interest in wanting to fund aid efforts in developing communities, it is difficult to envisage this issue being resolved in the near future, which is complex and multifaceted in causality. Despite the best of intentions, the resulting outcome from this study and many like it, will be limited to the provision of measurable and tangible care which may be as simple as providing oral rehydration solutions or emergency end-stage care to satisfy the donors and public image of health agencies. Offering vaccinations has been relatively successful in other areas such as Polio, however there does seem to be a reluctance in the same response. One reason may arise from the lack of associated diseases to this deadly symptom which does not attract the same headlines. If there is no international consensus and political drive from developed nations, complex and longer term issues from education and poor governance will be relegated to gestures at best to maintain diplomatic relations with the host nation controlling access.


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