Every year, around 64,000 children in Bihar die of diarrhoea. The state’s figure accounts for around 12 per cent of the national average of child deaths from the disease.
Unicef Bihar chief Yameen Mazumdar revealed the figures at a state-level advocacy workshop, Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Diarrhoea, on Sunday. Indian Medical Association (IMA) had organised the workshop in collaboration with Unicef.
Mazumdar said: “Antimicrobial (medication to treat diarrhoea) are not required for most cases. However, the district-level health survey, conducted by the Centre in 2007-08, shows that almost 74 per cent of diarrhoea cases in Bihar are being treated with anti-microbials. The rate of ORS (oral rehydration salts) use was found as low as 22 per cent, while a national policy, since November 2006, recommends the use of zinc as an adjuvant to ORS for the treatment of diarrhoea.”
He added: “A survey conducted by Unicef in 10 states (in 2008) revealed that more than 70 per cent families go to private clinics for common health-related problems. The survey highlighted that doctors at private clinics across the country hardly prescribe ORS and zinc for children suffering from diarrhoea. Private clinics and practitioners mostly use anti-microbials for treating diarrhoea and avoid the use of ORS and zinc.”
IMA state chapter president Dr Parmanand Prasad Pal spoke on preventive measures for diarrhoea at the workshop organised at the IMA hall. He said: “Awareness on using safe drinking water needs to be spread among people, mostly villagers. People also need to develop sanitation habits.”
IMA secretary general Dr D.R. Rai said both the Union and state governments should try to improve the facilities offered at primary health care centres.
Around 5,35,000 children die of diarrhoea in the country every year.