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October 2022

J Trop Med Hyg. 1988 Aug; 91(4): 199-201.

The management of diarrhoea in young children in a rural community in Zambia.

Ng'andu NH, Nkowane BM.

Department of Community Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia.

Among 64 mothers in two villages in a rural Zambian population who reported childhood diarrhoea, 41 (64%) sought treatment from a health centre or clinic. Among these, 22 (54%) were given oral rehydration salts (ORS) and 19 (46%) were given medications other than ORS. Among the 23 who did not attend a health centre, 14 gave home remedies which included salt and sugar solution, of which, in five, the medicines used were from traditional healers. Overall, 43 (67.2%) of the mothers used some fluids as the first line of treatment. The fluids were infrequently given and in almost all instances, irrespective of the source of the fluid, no more than 15 ml were given over a 24 h period. Furthermore, among the mothers who used fluids, 28 (65.1%) reported stopping the fluids completely if the child vomited. None of the mothers however reported completely withdrawing food from the children. Age and educational level of the mother were not significant factors (P greater than 0.05). These findings suggest that education of mothers on home management of diarrhoea and the proper use of ORS needs to be re-emphasized and health care personnel need to be fully conversant with currently recommended methods for treatment of childhood diarrhoea.

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