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Background of the Study

Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for deaths of around 760,000 children every year (World Health Organization, 2013).

In addition, low and middle-income countries are particularly burdened with this both preventable and treatable condition. Targeted interventions includes the provision of safe water, the use of sanitation facilities and hygiene education, but are implemented with varying local success (Diouf, Tabatabat, Rudolph & Marx, 2014).

According to WHO (2013), diarrhea is the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for individual). Frequent passing of formed stools is not diarrhea, nor is the passing of loose “pasty” stool by breast fed babies. It is normally caused by an infection of the intestines due to either a virus, bacteria or parasites, a condition known as gastro enteritis.

Globally, there are an estimated 2 billion cases of diarrhea disease each year and 1-9million children under the age of 5, mostly in developing countries die from diarrhea. Diarrhea normally comes with symptoms like stomach pain, abdominal cramps, bloating, thirst, weight loss and sometimes fever (Mac Gill, 2017).

The disease affects rich and poor, old and young and those in developed and  developing countries alike, yet a strong relationship exists between poverty, an unhygienic environment and the number and severity of diarrheal episodes, especially for under five.

Zinc supplement helps in the treatment of diarrhea disease, as it is an important micronutrient for the overall health and development of infants and young children.

However, among children in the poorest countries, zinc deficiency is wide spread and can result in higher rates of infectious diseases. During diarrhea episode, zinc is further depleted. Replacing this critical nutrient is an important way to help children recover from diarrhea and stay healthy. Studies also suggest that providing children with 10 to 14 days course of zinc treatment can reduce the duration and severity of diarrheal episodes and may also prevent future episodes for up to three months. Zinc treatment also can reduce the duration of acute diarrhea by 25percent and could prevent one in four diarrhea deaths (Vietnam, 2009).

According to Vietnam, (2009), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2004 issued a joint statement regarding the clinical management of acute diarrhea. This statement recommends the use of zinc treatment, as well as oral rehydration solution (ORS) as a two prolonged approach to treatment of acute diarrhea in children.

WHO and UNICEF specifically recommend daily 20mg of zinc supplements for 10days for children with acute diarrhea and 10mg per day for infants under six months old to curtail the severity of the episodes and prevent further occurrences. Zinc can be administered to young children either as syrup or dispersible tablets which dissolve easily in table spoon of clean water or breast milk (WHO, 2015).

Although, it’s possible impact on diarrhea is well known, zinc is still largely unavailable in most developing countries because most people do not have the knowledge of zinc, supply of zinc remains limited. Additional manufacturers are being identified in the developing world to increase production and distribution while keeping cost low to ensure the children who need zinc treatment the most are able to receive it (WHO & UNICEF, 2009).

In developing countries, prevention of diarrhea may be more challenging due to dirty water and poor sanitation. The following practical measures help to prevent the condition- clean/safe drinking water, good sanitation (toilets and sewage for example), hand washing with soap after defecation, after cleaning a child who has defecated, after disposing of a child stool, before preparing food and before eating, for mothers with young babies and good hygiene practices, that is both personal hygiene and in the kitchen (Mac Gill, 2017).

Statement of Problem

Diarrhea has been a health problem over the years worldwide claiming thousands of lives every day. It has been on the increase in the hospitals with children presenting with severe malnutrition and dehydration due to electrolyte imbalance.

Unfortunately, compliance of mothers towards the use of zinc sulphate is not well defined. The researcher also observed that mothers do not have knowledge of the use of zinc sulphate in management of diarrhea disease.

Based on this, the researcher was prompted to carry out this study in order to determine the knowledge of mothers towards the use of zinc sulphate.

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