When her two-year-old son fell ill, Tahani Zowaid rushed to the emergency room at Al-Sahaba clinic in Gaza.
“AbedRahman had diarrhea for four consecutive days. He had a fever and was vomiting and never stopped complaining of stomach pain.”
After examining the youngster, Dr. Ahmed El Essi confirmed he had a viral infection, which had caused the diarrhea and vomiting. He assured Tahani her toddler would get well soon thanks to treatment with the oral rehydration powder “Drip Drops.” AbedRahman had to take the solution to restore fluids lost during his sickness. “It contains electrolytes,” explained Dr. El Essi, “The solution includes sodium, sugars and potassium that stimulate rehydration. It enables the body to absorb water more quickly into the bloodstream and so promote greater fluid retention.”
The doctor added that delays in treating AbedRahman would have worsened his health and probably have ended in a hospital stay because of severe dehydration. “Dehydration is the last thing we want for such a young child,” said Dr. El Essi. “If that happens, the child needs immediate care at a hospital, and IV to replenish fluids and at least a 24-hour observation.”
Children in Gaza Exposed to Unsafe Water
Children under five are particularly vulnerable to infections, diarrhea and dehydration from exposure to Gaza’s poor sanitary conditions and unhealthy water. Health experts list diarrhea as the second highest contributor to child mortality worldwide.
Unlike intravenous saline drips for severe dehydration caused by diarrhea, the hydration powder Drip Drops is inexpensive, does not require special, sterile equipment and can be easily mixed and administered at home. Thanks to a donation from AmeriCares and contributions from individual donors, ANERA was able to provide 1,800 boxes of the hydration powder to 11 clinics across Gaza. Al-Sahaba clinic alone has used Drop Drops to treat some 35 cases of dehydration.
Doctors and parents welcomed the medicine. So did the children, who especially liked its lemon flavor. Dr. El Essi added, “Catching an illness like this early and protecting children against dehydration or organ failure can save them from a lot of suffering.”
A week after receiving the hydration powders, Tahani Zowaid returned to the clinic to report on her child’s progress. “It is unbelievable to see how a simple solution can be life-saving.”