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Diarrhea kills 10,000 Pinoy kids every year - WHO

MANILA, Philippines - Over 70,000 Filipino children have died of diarrhea in span of seven years, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a study released Friday. In its study which it co-conducted with the Department of Health and United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), WHO said this figure makes diarrhea the fourth leading cause of deaths among children less than five years old and the third leading cause of illness among the children. The study showed that if the trend continues, it is expected to cause 10,000 deaths every year. Dr. Maria Ricardo, health specialists revealed that the Philippines ranks second among 13 countries included in the census in terms of the number of diarrhea cases. Ricardo said the number of diarrhea cases in the Philippines is almost double the figure for other Asian countries like Vietnam, Mongolia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Korea. Statistics likewise showed that the country is the second largest contributor to diarrhea morbidity in the world, next to China with 593,372 deaths based on the 2000 census conducted by the group. The same survey also revealed that between 10 to 20 percent or 1.5 million children under the age of five suffer from diarrhea at one time, and attributed the prevalence of the illness to poor hygiene. Experts note that the incidence of diarrhea may easily be lowered by 40 percent by having kids wash their hands with water and soap. “Unfortunately, many children do not wash their hands due to lack of access to water and basic sanitation facilities, poor hygienic practices, and handed down practice from parents," Ricardo said. Meanwhile, Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (NCDPC) said that the national government has also launched its own analysis for the year 2000 on handwashing practice among adults and children. She said that among adults, 90 percent have said that they wash their hands before eating but less than 50 percent of children below 12 years old adhere to the practice. The study also indicated that only 20 percent of children below five years old, 37 percent among adolescents, 44 percent of adults, and 50 percent of older people wash their hands after they use the toilet. The study was released ahead of the commemoration of the 1st Global Handwashing Day next month. - GMANews.TV