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Time Magazine reports: Zink tames diarrhea

Wed, 16Sep2009

there is  a good new story in Time this past August (’09) Here is an excerpt

Can One Pill Tame the Illness No One Wants to Talk About?

By Vivienne Walt / Sogola Monday, Aug. 17, 2009

African communities fight diarrhea

African communities fight diarrhea

It is hard to grasp the impact diarrhea has on people’s lives across Africa and Asia. The disease kills more children than either malaria or AIDS, stunts growth, and forces millions — adults and children alike — to spend weeks at a time off work or school, which hits both a country’s economy and its citizens’ chances of a better future. In countless villages like Sogola, where people have long drawn water from unreliable wells, diarrhea kills so many that there is a general sense of resignation, as if watching children die is simply one of life’s inevitable tragedies. One morning I ask Djene-Sira Diakité how many children she has. “God gave me 10 children, and took five of them back,” she says with a shrug.

But now a quiet revolution is under way. Over the past few years, a handful of aid organizations and governments — including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development — have begun distributing zinc supplements to villagers in Bangladesh, India, Mali and Pakistan. Several other groups are working with governments in Africa to introduce zinc, which comes both in tablet form and as a syrup. In Mali, Save the Children U.S. used $680,000 from a 2007 charity concert of American Idol to distribute zinc tablets to a handful of villages in the south of the country. (Read TIME’s Persons of the Year cover story on Bill and Melinda Gates.)

So far, the small programs have drawn little attention. But their impact has been dramatic. Zinc pills appear to halt diarrhea in its tracks. “Before, we were terrified when children’s stomachs began running, because we knew some of them would die,” says Sata Djialla in the Malian village of Morola. “Now our children are not dying of diarrhea.”

…A second medical breakthrough should also help. At least one-third of all diarrhea deaths among young children are caused by the rotavirus, which infects the cells lining the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis. In June, the WHO approved the first rotavirus vaccine for global use. The vaccine, which in trials in Latin America, Europe and the U.S. cut rotavirus infections by 85%, could someday be part of routine vaccination programs for children, along with those for polio, measles and other diseases whose death rates have plummeted in recent years.

for full story : http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1914655-1,00.html

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