Control of diarrhoeal diseases

C. A. Martinez, D. Barua, M. H. Merson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article traces the history of the worldwide struggle to control diarrheal diseases. When the 7th pandemic of cholera began in 1961, WHO responded with a greatly expanded program of activities which included cooperation with countries in training and control efforts, and research on treatment and prevention. In 1970, when the cholera pandemic spread to Africa, the emergency assistance program was reactivated, with increasing attention to the provision of appropriate treatment, especially oral rehydration therapy. Another public health problem of importance during the 1970s was the increase in antibiotic resistance of enteric bacteria. The demonstration of the effectiveness of a single formulation of oral rehydration salts (ORS) in the treatment of all diarrheas was instrumental in convincing public health administrators that diarrheal diseases control should become an essential component of primary health care and led to the creation of a global Diarrheal Diseases Control program. The Program, which has the objective of reducing childhood mortality and morbidity due to diarrheal diseases and their associated ill effects, especially malnutrition, consists of 2 main components: a health services and control component and research component. If the targets set by the Program for 1989 can be attained, it is expected that by then at least 1.5 million childhood deaths due to diarrhea will be prevented annually.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Health Statistics Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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