Home Institution

Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health


This study investigates pediatric diarrhea in children under 5 years old at Murchison District Hospital in Port Shepstone, South Africa. Hospital Child Pip data was used to determine the number of admissions to the hospital for pediatric diarrhea and its mortality rate. Characteristics of deceased patients including age, malnutrition, and HIV status, were then synthesized with information on patients’ access to clean water and improved sanitation obtained through 20 interviews of mothers of patients as well as caregivers’ infant feeding practices and hygiene practices, such as handwashing with soap. Treatment and prevention of diarrhea was also explored. Murchison’s management of diarrhea compared positively to national guidelines. Ultimately, the data showed that South African’s lack of knowledge about pediatric diarrhea directly contributes to its incidence and mortality rate. Education was concluded as the key solution. National scale and local scale recommendations were given on how to make such education practical through improving access to facilities, increase the number of educators by increasing existing incentives for health professionals, assess patients’ understanding of home assessment and treatment of diarrhea and dehydration, and provide them with reference materials that they can review.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Epidemiology | Maternal and Child Health


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