Diarrhoea outbreak declared in Solomon Islands

…Threatening to kill babies and children

A DIARRHOEA outbreak has been confirmed by the National Health authorities yesterday.

A dramatic increase in diarrhoea cases in Honiara and Guadalcanal province is threatening to kill babies and children this festive season.

464 diarrhoea cases have been reported across the country in the week to 13 December, however, the real number is likely to be significantly higher.

“Diarrhoea is the passing of too many loose or watery stools. It can kill babies and young children if parents don’t act quickly,” said Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) Permanent Secretary, Dr Tenneth Dalipada.

“Parents must take their babies and children to the nearest clinic as soon as they show symptoms of diarrhoea, without delay. Symptoms may include watery stools, vomiting, a loss of appetite and dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration can include less frequent urination, a dry mouth and throat, no tears when crying, thirst and tiredness.

“Giving Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and Zinc tablets replaces lost fluid and reduces the severity of diarrhoea. These simple treatments can save children’s lives, but to be most effective they must be given as soon as possible,” said Dr Dalipada.

Those being cared for at home should be given plenty of fluids such as clean or boiled water, coconut water and lemon juice.

Babies should continue to be breastfed.

Diarrhoea is usually caused by contaminated food or drinking-water, and spread from one person to another due to poor hygiene.

“The best way to stop diarrhoea spreading to your family and community is to wash your hands with soap and water before eating and preparing food, after going to the toilet and after cleaning your baby’s bottom,” said Dr Dalipada.

The Ministry of Health would like to advise all communities to keep listening to SIBC and checking print media for further advice.

KEY MESSAGES

What to do if you or your child has diarrhoea;

  • Take babies and children to the clinic as soon as soon as they show signs of diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Give Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc tablets for 2 weeks
  • Give plenty of clean water, coconut water, lemon juice
  • Boil drinking water
  • Keep breastfeeding babies

How to protect yourself and your family from diarrhoea

Wash your hands with soap and water:

  • Before eating and preparing food
  • After going to the toilet
  • After cleaning your baby’s bottom

MHMS Press

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