The Impact of Oral Rehydration Therapy on Childhood Diarrhoeal Disease in Ilorin

  • A Ojuawo
  • A Njoku
  • O Adedoyin


Background: Diarrhoeal disease remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in childhood. The advent of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) including home treatment of diarrhoea has affected the incidence of dehydration.

Objective: To assess the impact of oral rehydration therapy on childhood diarrhoeal disease.

Design: Cross sectional study.

Methods: The duration of the diarrhoeal illness, the degree of dehydration, treatment given at home and the outcome were studied in children seen at the Diarrhoea Training Unit (DTU) of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital during the periods July 1993 to June 1994 and July 1997 to June 1998.

Results: Eight hundred and ninety one patients presented in the DTU over the one-year period in 1993/94 compared to 109 patients over the same period in 1997/98. There was a significantly higher mean duration of diarrhoea before presentation in the 1993/94 group (58.3 ± 13 hours) compared to the 1997/98 group (25.7 ± 6.1 hours) (t = 2.12, p < 0.025). Severe dehydration was seen in 11 percent of the cases in the 1993/94 group compared to five percent in the 1997/98 group (χ2 = 9.42, P < 0.01). Seventy-six percent of the patients in the 1993/94 group and sixty-six percent in the 1997/98 group received various antidiarrhoeal drugs before presentation.

Conclusion: The application of oral rehydration therapy resulted in the reduction of cases of severe dehydration seen in children with diarrhoea in Ilorin. The parents presented earlier in the 1997/98 than in the 1993/944 group but the use of antidiarrhoeal drugs was still common. There is therefore, a need for further training of health workers and mothers on the home management of diarrhoea. The use of drugs that are not indicated in the management of diarrhoea should be discouraged, while ORT use should be strengthened.

Key words: Diarrhoea, Dehydration, Oral rehydration therapy, Anti-diarrhoeal drugs.

Nigerian Journal of Paediatrics 2003;30:23-26.


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eISSN: 0302-4660