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Fortnight to check diarrhoea

Shillong, July 28: Diarrhoea has been identified as one of the causes that impact infant mortality rate (IMR) in Meghalaya.

Today, all states and Union territories in the country began observing the Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight which would conclude on August 8. In Meghalaya, the programme is being observed in all district headquarters and sub-divisions. The programme consists of a set of activities to be intensively implemented to prevent deaths because of childhood diarrhoea.

In the state capital, health minister A.L. Hek inaugurated the programme at Ganesh Das Hospital. Paediatrician Y. Shabong of the hospital said in Meghalaya, 92,000 cases of diarrhoea with 114 deaths of children less than five years of age were recorded in 2013-14.

She said most of these cases were in West Khasi Hills, East Jaintia Hills and West Jaintia Hills.

“Diarrhoea is one of the main causes of infant deaths in the state. This needs to be intensively addressed,” she added. According to NRHM statistics, IMR in Meghalaya is 49 deaths per 100,000 births while the all-India figure is 44.

Later, Shabong demonstrated to the mothers how to use oral rehydration solution (ORS) and administer zinc tablets to the affected children. She also stressed on the importance of sanitation and hygiene to control diarrhoea.

Hek, in his speech, said the state government has taken various initiatives to provide citizens with an effective and timely health delivery system. He said reduction of infant mortality is one of the prime goals of the National Health Mission and Millennium Development Goals.

During the first week of the programme, there will be awareness generation and advocacy on the use of ORS and zinc tablets, home visits by accredited health activists to all families with under five children, establishment of ORS-Zinc corners and hand-washing demonstration in schools.

In the second week, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices would be conducted for awareness generation on correct child feeding practices, creation of awareness on problems of under-nutrition, detection and treatment of under-nutrition and providing effective IYCF counselling services.