Johannesburg, 3 November23: Sanofi, a global leader in healthcare, joins the nation in celebrating National Children’s Day on 4 November, a day dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights and well-being of children. As part of its commitment to improving the health of children, Sanofi has been running a campaign to raise awareness on the importance of gut health and diarrhoea prevention, especially among young children who are most vulnerable to the effects of diarrhoea. In partnership with non-profit organisation (NPO), Save the Children South Africa, this ambitious campaign intends impacting over 2 000 000 lives by 2025, through improved access to water, and education on hygiene and nutrition.
Diarrhoeal disease outbreaks are on the increase in South Africa owing to unsafe or unhygienic water sources, which is being compounded by the effects of loadshedding.1 Equally, deadly floods and landslides continue to devastate South Africa, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Homes and infrastructure have been destroyed, with hundreds of people having tragically lost their lives with the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal particularly impacted in recent years.2
This has resulted in an increased incidence of gastroenteritis, also known as stomach flu, which is caused by intestinal infection owing to the contamination of food, water, or hands.3
Diarrhoea accounts for 19% of deaths of under-fives in South Africa and for 46% on the African continent.4 Acute diarrhoea has several risks and complications and may lead to life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte disturbances.3 When diarrhoea is not halted, there is a risk of disturbed digestion and absorption of nutrients with nutritional deterioration.3
Momeena Omarjee, Consumer Healthcare Country Head: Scientific Affairs, at Sanofi South Africa, says: “Sanofi is committed to ensuring that no child dies of a preventable disease. Since October 2022, Sanofi has donated 23 water tanks and 21 hand-washing stations to Early Childhood Development centres in KwaZulu-Natal communities in need, to ensure access to clean, drinkable water. This will help to curb the prevalence of diarrhoea and diarrhoea-associated deaths in children under five, which are entirely avoidable.”.
“Children living in poverty-stricken environments are approximately 10 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than their more privileged counterparts.5 Providing adequate access to clean, drinkable water and quality early childcare and development will impact the lives and health of so many vulnerable children,” says Omarjee.
Several studies have shown that probiotics, like Sanofi’s Enterogermina, shorten the duration of diarrhoea and prevent recurrence of other episodes.6 Furthermore, probiotics can prevent diarrhoea infection in infants with malnutrition.6
Education is key and Sanofi recently hosted its Purpose Day at Entokozweni Resource Centre, an NPO based in Mamelodi, teaching children and caregivers on the importance of hygiene and the washing of hands to prevent diseases and save lives.
“As we chase our ambition of impacting over 2 000 000 lives, we are proud of our efforts to date. With our partnership with Save the Children, we have been able to reach over 54 000 people directly and almost 36 000 000 indirectly,” says Omarjee.
- Ends –
- Ebrahim, N. Western Cape Municipality asks residents to boil water as load shedding hits treatment plants. News24, 16 January 2023, available from: https://www.news24.com/fin24/economy/municipality-voices-concerns-over-water-quality-and-sewage-spills-amid-load-shedding-20230116, accessed 29 May 2023.
- Khan, AJ. Water worries hang over Durban months after heavy flooding. The Guardian, 9 January 2023, available from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/09/water-quality-worries-hang-over-durban-months-after-deadly-flooding, accessed 29 May 2023
- Wittenberg, DF. 2012. Management guidelines for acute infective diarrhoea/gastroenteritis in infants. SAMJ, vol. 102, No. 2.
- Awotione, O.F., et al. 2016. Systematic review: Diarrhoea in children under five years of age in South Africa (1997-2014). Tropical Medicine and International Health, 21(9), 1060-1070.
- Chola, L., et al. 2015. Reducing diarrhoea deaths in South Africa: costs and effects of scaling up essential interventions to prevent and treat diarrhoea in under five children. BMC Public Health, 15, 394.
- Solis, B. et al. 2002. Probiotics as a help in children suffering from malnutrition and diarrhoea. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 56, S57-59.
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