Southern States Pip North In Preventing Diarrhoea, Says Expert

Kochi: South Indian states have been able to contain the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases as social development is high in these states, an expert said on Tuesday.

“South Indian states pip their counterparts in the North in preventing this disease,” Prof Nirmal Kumar Ganguly, President, Asian Conference on Diarrhoeal Disease and Nutrition (ASCODD), said.

Social development is high in these states and if a child is given breast-feeding at least for six months, the child is largely protected, he said.

Lack of girls’ education, malnutrition, paucity of latrines and gender imbalance are some reasons why states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh are
struggling to ward off diarrhoeal diseases, he was quoted as saying a release issued by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, one of the organisers of the conference.

Ganguly suggested WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), balanced nutrition and vaccines such as rotavirus, typhoid vaccine and cholera vaccine as preventive measures for diarrhoeal diseases.

“WASH can be connected to Swachh Bharat Mission, and other preventive activities could be linked to the National Health Mission, which moves to the lowest level of the
healthcare,” he said.

Ganguly said during the early 1960s or 70s, diarrhoeal diseases were one of the largest killers of children below five.

That was one of the major causes of morbidity in children up to adolescence, and for those who survived, it led to malnutrition and many children became stunted, he said.

Though the mortality rate of diarrhoea has come down in rural areas, it is still the second killer after pneumonia with regard to children below five, he pointed out.

Nutrition is still the highest challenge in India, he said.

Over 61 scientists from countries, including the UK, the US, Bangladesh, Germany, India, France and Sweden, will present papers at the three-day conference which began here.

The theme of the conference is “Saving lives: innovations and solutions for diarrhoeal diseases, enteric fever and malnutrition, which is majorly supported by the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Prof Colin Stine of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, US, delineated the process of preventing diarrhoea using metagenome and whole genome sequencing,
organisers said in another release.

“The process of identifying a novel antibiotic using genomic sequencing involves the interaction between Shigella and Lactobacillus salivarius, a probiotic bacteria species
that has been found to live in the gastrointestinal tract.

Increasing quantities of Lactobacillus salivarius decrease the proportion of diarrhoea cases due to Shigella, he said.