BEIJING, March 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Diarrhoea among children accounts for 20 percent of all child deaths, killing nearly two million children each year even though treating the ailment is relatively simple and "almost miraculous", the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
Research into childhood diarrhoea has declined since the 1980s, keeping pace with dwindling funds for a disease that causes relatively higher child deaths,the WHO said in a statement.
"Funds available for research into diarrhoea are much lower than those devoted to other diseases that cause comparatively few deaths," it said.
The most immediate challenge is to ensure all children suffering from diarrhoea can access a simple, 25-year-old treatment consisting of zinc tablets and a mixture known as Oral Rehydration Salts or ORS, said Dr. Olivier Fontaine, a WHO medical officer specializing in child health.
The WHO estimates some 50 million children have been saved thanks to the mixture, which costs only 30 US cents per child.
"ORS is essentially a pinch of salt and a handful of sugar mixed with clean water," Fontaine said.
"Having seen, first hand, the devastation that childhood diarrhoea can cause and also the almost miraculous, life-saving power of ORS and zinc, I certainly hope that we'll receive the support we need to come up with answers to some of the key questions that remain," he said.
The international Red Cross also warned Tuesday that diarrhoeal diseases, such as cholera, are on the rise and increasingly a major cause of diseases and deaths throughout the world.