Oral Rehydration Therapy Corners and the Management of Diarrhoeal illness in children

Baez, Carmen
Publication Year: 
Series Name: 
Kwik Skwiz
South Africa
Published by: 
Health Systems Trust

The Issue

In June 1995, South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In doing so, the country committed itself to implementing the principle of a first call for children whereby the needs of children are considered paramount throughout the governments programmes, services and development strategies.

In South Africa, 4,000 deaths caused by diarrhoeal illness were reported in 1994, in children aged below 5 years and 6,000 in 1995 1 . However experts believe that, based on other sources of information, these represents about a third of the actual deaths related to diarrhoeal illnesses.

Diarrhoea is also responsible for a significant proportion of morbidity and malnutrition in this age group.

One child dies every two hours as a result of diarrhoeal illness

The management of diarrhoea involves mainly the prevention and treatment of dehydration by correct rehydration. When this is done orally, it is called oral rehydration therapy (ORT) , which is a scientific, inexpensive and effective process. With appropriate information and education given to caregivers, this simple and cost-effective measure can reduce both morbidity and mortality amongst children with diarrhoeal illness.

In Region C of the Free State , the effective management of diarrhoeal illness in children is considered a priority.

Therefore, the Regional Child Health Coordinator, with the support of the Interim District Management Team (IDMT) is responsible for the planning and implementation of child health programmes, and in particular, the ORT corner project.

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