Diarrhoea is the second largest killer of children under five worldwide, despite being easily treatable. Women and Children First’s Health Groups have supported mothers like Birtukan, whose son contracted diarrhoea when he was two years old - and helped save his life.
In countries such as Ethiopia, children often die from complications caused by diarrhoea, such as severe dehydration.
These complications are worsened because many children are not treated with vital re-hydration tablets and safe drinking water.
“Before the women’s group was set up, we used to treat our babies with diarrhoea with a local medicine made from grass. We didn’t realise this caused the baby harm.”
This traditional medicine does not cure diarrhoea or re-hydrate babies, meaning it can risk young children’s lives as their symptoms get worse.
When Birtukan’s youngest son was almost two years old, he suffered from diarrhoea. After learning the importance of attending a health centre from her women’s group, she took him for professional treatment.
They gave him medication and re-hydration salts and he recovered rapidly.
Birtukan said: “At the health centre they were able to prescribe medication. They told me how to look after him when we went home.”
Birtukan also used the information that she had learned in her local women’s health group about how to prevent her son getting diarrhoea again.
She says: “I now know how to make sure water is safe to drink, by treating it or boiling it.”
“We keep the home clean. If we have any leftover food, we know to cover it and then to reheat it well before eating. I always wash my hands now before preparing food. I advise other women to do the same.”
You can continue to help communities prevent and treat conditions such as diarrhoea in countries like Ethiopia, by donating to Women and Children First.