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May Topic | Diarrhoea | What Can Children Do?

Our May topic is Diarrhoea.

Our 100 Health Messages for Children to Learn and Share are simple, reliable health education messages aimed at children aged 8-14, this includes young adolescents aged 10-14. We feel that it is especially useful and important to make sure that young adolescents are informed as this age group often cares for young children in their families. Also, it’s important to recognise and praise the work they are doing to help their families in this way.

The messages are arranged as 10 messages in 10 key health topics: Malaria, Diarrhoea, Nutrition, Coughs, Colds & Pneumonia, Intestinal Worms, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Immunisation, HIV & Aids, Accidents & Preventing Injuries and Caring for Babies & Young Children. The simple health messages are for parents and health educators to use with children at home and in schools, clubs and clinics.

Our messages on Diarrhoea:

  1. Diarrhoea is watery poo that happens three or more times a day.
  2. Diarrhoea is caused by germs getting into the mouth from contaminated food or drink, or touching the mouth with dirty fingers or using dirty spoons or cups.
  3. The loss of water and salts (fluids) makes the body weak. If fluids are not replaced, diarrhoea can kill young children quickly from dehydration.
  4. Diarrhoea can be prevented by giving extra safe drinks like safe water, or coconut or rice water. Babies need breast milk most of all.
  5. A child with diarrhoea may have a dry mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, no tears, loose skin, and cool hands and feet. Babies may also have a sunken soft spot on the head.
  6. Children doing more than five watery poos a day or bloody poo or who start to vomit too MUST be seen by a health worker.
  7. ORS stands for Oral Rehydration Solution. Find ORS at clinics and shops. Mix it correctly with clean safe water to make the best drink for diarrhoea.
  8. Most diarrhoea medicines do not work but zinc pills stop diarrhoea sooner for children over 6 months. ORS drinks MUST be given as well.
  9. Young children with diarrhoea need tasty, mashed food as often as possible to make their bodies stronger.
  10. Diarrhoea can be prevented by breastfeeding babies, good hygiene habits, immunisation (especially against rotavirus and measles) and making sure food is safe.

These health messages have been reviewed by expert health educators and medical experts and are available on the Health ORB website too.

Teachers in Lagos work together on actions plans to mobilise children as activists in a diarrhoea prevention and control programme.

What can children Make, Do & Ask to better understand this topic?

Here are some ideas for activities children can do to understand more about our May topic and share the messages with others.

  • MAKE our own Diarrhoea messages using our own words in our own language!
  • MEMORISE the messages so we never forget them!
  • SHARE these messages with other children and our families!
  • MAKE a simple Fly Trap to keep flies that carry germs away from our food.
  • MAKE a poster to show others the diarrhoea danger signs.
  • CREATE a short play about when we need to call the health worker to help.
  • MAKE a snakes and ladders game to help us learn how to stop diarrhoea.
  • MAKE First Aid Kits for home and school that has ORS.
  • ROLE PLAY two mothers talking about how to help their babies with diarrhoea get better.
  • PLAY a game to label a picture of a baby with diarrhoea to test what we know about the signs of dehydration.
  • LOOK at how plants need water to grow – find out what happens when plants don’t have water.
  • HELP prevent diarrhoea by keeping ourselves and the places we live clean.
  • PLAY The Handshaking Game to find out how quickly germs can spread.
  • ASK, How long were our parents breastfed? How do we treat diarrhoea at home with ORS and zinc? What are the danger signs that mean we need to get help from a health worker? What drinks are safe when we have diarrhoea? How we can make water safe to drink by using sunlight? Which drinks are safe when we don’t have any ORS? What are dysentery and cholera and how do they spread?

Children for Health has worked with teachers and children to create two storybooks that are relevant to this topic,The Puzzle and The Special Glasses. See our Free Resources section for more.

For more specific information on making a Fly Trap, The Handshaking Game or on
sunshine sterilizing water or to learn more about our May topic, see Diarrhoea!
For anything else, e-mail

Our diarrhoea logo, a brown circle in the centre of which is an illustration of a child wearing a blue shirt and orange shorts in a squat position having a poo.