Diarrhea & its Effects on Children in the Developing World

Diarrhea & its Effects on Children in the Developing World

September 11, 2019

Diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death in children under five years old and the third leading cause of death in Africa. Diarrhea is an infection of the intestinal tract caused by bacterial, viral and other parasitic organisms and is manifested by the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day. Infection is spread through contaminated food or water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene. The disease poses a severe threat of dehydration due to a rapid loss of water and electrolytes.

Diarrheal Diseases: the Leading Cause of Childhood Death in Developing Countries

Diarrheal diseases can affect everyone, but they are a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in developing countries where there is poverty, lack of access to clean water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, poor health care and malnutrition.

An estimated five million deaths occur each year among children under 5 years of age in poor countries


According to the World Health Organization, children under 3 years old living in developing countries experience, on average, three episodes of diarrhea every year. An estimated five million deaths occur each year among children under 5 years of age in poor countries and more than 80% of these deaths occur in children in the first 2 years of life.

Good News: Diarrhea is Preventable

We can stop the spread of diarrhea by ensuring that we have:

- Access to clean drinking water
- Adequate sanitation facilities
- Good personal and food hygiene
- Vaccination
- Hand washing with soap
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life
- Effective health education

As we prepare for the upcoming Community Health Worker training in Sierra Leone, diarrhea is one of the issues we will be providing training on.  There is a high prevalence of infectious diseases like diarrhea, malaria and also malnutrition due to poor sanitation, lack of access to health care and limited health care awareness in Rokupr, Sierra Leone. With health education, basic supplies, and providing knowledge of resources within the area, we are working to end the loss of life due to diarrhea.

– Hassan Barrie, MPH Intern

 Kedir Addisu Alambo, K. A. (2015).  ABC Research Alert Vol 3, Number 2/ 2015 Published Online: 30. Retrieved from: http://www.abcreal.weebly.com/uploads/1/4/2/3/14237537/3.2.2.pdf
World Health Organization (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diarrhoeal-disease


  • Hassan Barrie says:

    Diarrhea is preventable and we are determined to help save lives in Rokupr, Kambia District.

  • Amin Njinju says:

    This is a great post!!! I am thrilled that Hassan Barrie has written on this issue which is one of the main Public Health problems in the world!!! It will be great if the preventative measures stated in the post are maintained. This will greatly decrease the rate of infection thereby decreasing death rates. Thanks!!

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