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J Health Popul Nutr. 2008 Mar;26(1):1-11.

Effect of HIV/AIDS and malaria on the context for introduction of zinc treatment and low-osmolarity ORS for childhood diarrhoea.

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  • 1Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Room E5030, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205-2103, USA. pwinch@jhsph.edu


Diarrhoea was estimated to account for 18% of the estimated 10.6 million deaths of children aged less than five years annually in 2003. Two--Africa and South-East Asia--of the six regions of the World Health Organization accounted for approximately 40% and 31% of these deaths respectively, or almost three-quarters of the global annual deaths of children aged less than five years attributable to diarrhoea. Much of the effort to roll out low-osmolarity oral rehydration solution (ORS) and supplementation of zinc for the management of diarrhoea accordingly is being devoted to sub-Saharan Africa and to South and South-East Asia. A number of significant differences exist in diarrhoea-treatment behaviours and challenges of the public-health systems between Africa and Asia. The differences in rates of ORS use are the most common indicator of treatment of diarrhoea and vary dramatically by and within region and may significantly influence the roll-out strategy for zinc and low-osmolarity ORS. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the endemicity of malaria also differ greatly between regions; both the diseases consume the attention and financial commitment of public-health programmes in regions where rates are high. This paper examined how these differences could affect the context for the introduction of zinc and low-osmolarity ORS at various levels, including the process of policy dialogue with local decision-makers, questions to be addressed in formative research, implementation approaches, and strategies for behaviour-change communication and training of health workers.

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