oa Central African Journal of Medicine - Rural community management of diarrhoea in Zimbabwe: the impact of health education message on oral rehydration therapy

Volume 34 Number 10
  • ISSN : 0008-9176



This study was conducted in June/July 1984 to gather information on the management of diarrhoea in the home and hence the impact of health workers in their promotions of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) for the diarrhoeal diseases control programme. Eight rural areas were selected, one randomly chosen from each province. A total of 480 mothers/childminders, 141 villagers, health workers, 78 medical and health assistants and 38 community sisters were interviewed. The majority (77.4 percent) of mothers/childminders interviewed were aware of the seriousness of diarrhoea and its associated consequences leading to dehydration and death. Some mothers did not appreciate the value of breast milk as nourishment for children with diarrhoea, as indicated by the 22 percent who said that the breastfeeding actually caused the diarrhoea, while 12 percent completely stopped breastfeeding because of this belief. However, the majority of the health workers interviewed (97.4 percent) were advising mothers to continue breastfeeding during and after the diarrhoea episode. Seventy-two percent of the mothers/childminders had been taught about the use of the sugar and salt solution (SSS) in the treatment of diarrhoea by the health workers, but only 21 percent could recall the recommended standard method (6 teaspoons sugar, half a teaspoon salt in 750 ml of clean water). The majority of health workers interviewed did recommend the SSS as the first line of action in the management of diarrhoea and 75 percent of them were able to give the standard formulation.

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