Situation and trends
Diarrhoeal disease is one of the most common causes of child deaths worldwide, accounting for approximately 800 000 deaths annually. Nearly three-quarters of these deaths occur in just 15 countries. Water, sanitation and hygiene, adequate nutrition, immunization and exclusive breastfeeding help to prevent diarrhoeal disease among children. Treatment of sick children with Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) and zinc supplements saves lives and is safe and cost-effective. Worldwide, ORT has prevented more than 50 million child deaths in the last 25 years. It remains, however, that only 44% of children in low-income countries with diarrhoea symptoms receive this recommended treatment. Within countries, poor children and those living in rural areas are less likely to receive the recommended treatment.