Treating diarrhoea in emergency settings
Diarrhoea will have claimed 92 million lives by 2025. Sally Hargreaves from the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières takes a look at the treatment of diarrhoea in emergency settings
Diarrhoeal diseases have long been recognised as leading causes of global illness and death and are the commonest cause of deaths among children. Medical estimates have calculated that diarrhoea will claim 92 million lives by 2025. During protracted war and conflict in particular, simple diarrhoeal diseases can often kill more people than the fighting itself, as communities are dislodged and existing healthcare services are thrown into chaos. Many of these deaths, which disproportionately affect those living in the developing world, are largely preventable.
Diarrhoea can be a result of infection from a variety of micro-organisms and causes a person to lose both water and electrolytes, leading to dehydration and electrolyte disturbances. As severity increases, internal organs start to fail, and the patient may go into a coma. Death from dehydration usually occurs when 10-15% of the total body weight is lost. In severe diarrhoea, such as that caused by cholera,