Fall 2006 Grant Recipient
School of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor's program
Diarrheal disease remains one of the leading causes of death for children under five years of age. More than two million children globally will die every year from dehydration associated with diarrhea. The aim of our study was to understand the management of diarrheal disease in an outpatient clinic in Gondar, Ethiopia. The mothers of 221 children less than five years old with diarrhea were interviewed to determine their knowledge and use of ORT. The history of diarrhea was recorded from the patient’s charts.
The majority of the mothers reported that they know how to prepare ORS, and their children received the solution during diarrheal illnesses. However, a large proportion of mothers reported that they withheld food during diarrheal episodes. Results suggest that there is a disparity between the knowledge and the management of diarrhea in Ethiopian mothers enrolled in the study. Further research is needed to explore the misunderstanding and teach mothers how to adequately manage diarrheal disease. A successful model to manage diarrheal disease should encourage mothers to continue feeding and providing additional fluids to their children during diarrhea episodes in order to prevent dehydration.
I will never forget the warm-hearted Ethiopians who welcomed me with traditional Ethiopian greetings everywhere I traveled. From the bustling streets of Addis Ababa to the rural countryside, I was treated with respect. This mutual reverence allowed me to develop strong bonds with the people. I had the opportunity to work closely with many community health workers during my project. The health workers were my sources of guidance about the community because I trained them to collect information from the mothers, and they gave me feedback about how to improve the entire process. The community health workers were the ones who took off with the project, often working through their lunch breaks to complete the interviews. By working with these diligent and dedicated individuals, I realized that health workers who have strong links to their villages have the capacity to combat disease and promote health. In one of the world’s poorest countries - one that is plagued by a host of acute and chronic health conditions - educating communities on how to manage preventable illnesses will play an important role to bridge the inequity gap of the poor. Only after we learn and listen from people in these communities will we be able to make significant progress in the developing world.
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