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Chapter 10

Diarrhoeal Diseases

Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death in children globally. Just under 9 million children aged under 5 years died in 2008 and 1.5 million of these deaths were due to diarrhoea. It kills more children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. Including adult deaths, diarrhoeal diseases killed over 2.5 million people in 2009, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Funding for prevention and treatment has been insufficient. Neonatal and childhood deaths from diarrhoeal diseases account for nearly 20% of all deaths in children under 5 years of age, yet only 4.4% of global health funding is allocated to diarrhoeal disease research and development.

A 2009 report from UNICEF titled Diarrhoea: why children are still dying and what can be done outlined a seven-point plan for comprehensive diarrhoea control. The prevention package includes vaccination versus rotavirus and measles; promotion of early and exclusive breastfeeding and vitamin A supplementation; promotion of hand-washing with soap; improved water quantity and quality, including treatment and safe storage of household water; and promotion of community-wide sanitation. The treatment package includes fluid replacement to prevent dehydration (Oral Rehydration Salts) and zinc supplements.

Looking further forward, new cholera vaccines are becoming available, with active research at an earlier stage on vaccines versus typhoid, dysentery and E. coli. Antisecretory drugs are at various stages of development. If these prove compatible with ORS use, the combination would be a significant advance. Calcium-activated chloride channel blockers may provide additional therapeutic opportunities in the longer term.

Print publication date: 04 Nov 2011
Copyright year: 2012
Print ISBN: 978-1-84973-192-8
PDF eISBN: 978-1-84973-349-6
From the book series:
Drug Discovery