Monsoon in India
[REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE] In India, 13 children under the age of five years die due to diarrhoea, according to the figures with the Health Ministry. Picture: A woman holds an umbrella to shield her children and herself from the rain along a roadside in Mumbai June 13, 2013. [Reuters]

In India, 13 children under the age of five years die due to diarrhoea every hour, according to the Health Ministry. This translates to 328 children dying every day and 1.2 lakh children losing their lives every year to diarrhoea in India.

The government on Monday launched a nationwide 'Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight' (from July 11-23) to bring down the staggering number of deaths, which are more likely to happen during the monsoon season, the Press Trust of India reported.

The government has engaged Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) for the initiative. The health workers would visit households and administer ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts) to children less than five years of age.

"ASHA workers will visit all households with children below five years of age for pre-positioning the ORS. They will explain its benefits," CK Mishra, Additional Secretary, Health Ministry, was quoted by the PTI as saying. "The importance of this activity is that ORS will be available in the household when needed at the time of diarrhoea. Secondly, all health facilities shall have ORS corners which shall continuously demonstrate the way to prepare the ORS mixture." 

Mishra added that health workers would also administer ORS and zinc to children suffering from diarrhoea. They would simultaneously create awareness about the precautionary measures, prevention and treatment of the illness, which is caused by various virus, bacteria and protozoa.

According to the health ministry, the most common reasons for diarrhoeal attacks among children in India and consequent deaths are contaminated water, poor hygiene, malnutrition, lack of immunisation and inadequate sanitation.