Public health approaches to infectious disease
Public health approaches to infectious disease

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Public health approaches to infectious disease

1.2 Diarrhoeal diseases

Worldwide, there are about 2 billion cases of diarrhoeal disease every year, including cholera, dysentery (bloody diarrhoea), giardiasis and a long list of bacterial and viral causes. They are the second largest infectious cause of death among young children (Figure 1), killing about 1.4 million annually, 80% of them under two years of age (WHO, 2009c). Even in the USA, the richest nation on Earth, diarrhoeal diseases cause an estimated 38.4 million episodes annually and around 1700 deaths (Scallan et al., 2011).

The pathogens causing diarrhoeal diseases are transmitted in contaminated food and water and from hand to mouth (the faecal–oral route). A major underlying cause is the shaming fact that in 2010 around 780 million people (11% of the global population) lacked access to improved sources of drinking water (Figure 2), and 2.5 billion – 37% of the world’s population – had no access to basic sanitation (UNICEF and WHO, 2012). However, steady progress is being made: in the 20 years from 1990 to 2010, an estimated 2 billion people gained access to improved drinking water and 1.8 billion gained access to improved sanitation (i.e. a covered pit latrine or better). These changes are gradually reducing the impact of diarrhoeal diseases on children’s health.

Described image
© Basiro Davey
Figure 2 (a) A boy collecting water from a stream in the Oromiya region of Ethiopia in East Africa before (b) drinking it. The lack of access to safe drinking water is a major cause of diarrhoeal diseases.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371