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233 Childhood Diarrhoea


Diarrhoea is common amongst children, it is estimated that in 2002 14% of children aged 0-4 years old had bouts of diarrhoea during a 2 week period. That is 85 million children under 5 years old with loose stools or runny pooh, depending on whether you prefer a medical or more commonly used term. If the same incidence continued until aged 15 years, that would be 247 million children. Actually the rate falls with age, but this could be a rough estimate of the tot al number of people worldwide with diarrhoea in any two week period. Diarrhoea can cause health problems such as dehydration and a lack of salts, and consequently is a major killer, and when recurrent it is a cause of chronic debility.

Data sources

The source of these data was the World Bank’s 2005 World Development Indicators, from the series named Diarrhoea prevalence (% of children under 5) (SH.STA.DIRH.ZS). The underlying source that the World Bank cites is the United Nations Fund for Children’s (UNICEF), State of the World's Children publication.

Sporadic data are available for 97 territories since 1991. For 36 territories the most recent figure referred to 2000. There were no data given for territories in Western Europe and Japan .

The rate of diarrhoea of children under 5 years old was applied to all children aged 0-14. Turkey 's was rate set as missing because an estimate of 30% of children having diarrhoea during a 2 week period on average seemed unreliable in the overall context. Where no figures are given missing values are shown as ‘#N/A’ and rates and numbers are estimated from regional tot als.

Click here to view detailed data source references

The quotation that accompanies the map of childhood diarrhoea is from an article on the United Nations Fund for Children’s website. The article was written by Gurinder Gulati, and it was entitled ‘Child-centred Village Planning in Gujarat – A Powerful Tool for Child Survival and Development’. The quotation itself is from Manoj Patel, a student of Class IV. There was no date given on this article, so it is assumed that it is from 2005, because that was when the photos included in the article are dated from. Quotation was sourced from the website below in September 2006:

Excel sheets

Below is an explanation of each of the columns in the excel file:

Column A = Unique numerical territory (see 001).

Column B = Region and territory names (see 001).

Column C = Region code (see 001).

Column D = The ISO 3 code, or ISO ALPHA-3 (see 001).

Column E = Number of children aged 0-14 with diarrhoea, in 2002 in a two week period if aged 0-4 rates applied. This was calculated by multiplying the percentage of children aged 0-4 estimated to have diarrhoea (Column F) by the population of children ages 0-14 in millions in 2002 (Column G) by 10,000. (E = F * G * 10000).

Column F = Percentage of children aged 0-4 years with diarrhoea during a 2 week period. From source data, most recent available between 1991 and 2002. If data were missing, the regional average was assumed. Western Europe was estimated to be half the North America rate. Japan was estimated to be half of the Western Europe rate.

Column G = Children aged 0-14 in millions, in 2002. See technical notes 182, ‘Underweight Children’ for data source and assumptions.

Column H = Percentage of cases of childhood diarrhoea in 2002 in the 0-4 population. When 2002 data were unavailable the most recent data available between 1991-2001. If these were also unavailable the maximum percentage of children suffering from diarrhoea was taken from 1960-1996. These data can be found on the source data sheet.