Background: Oral rehydration salts (ORS) therapy for diarrheal diseases is considered an effective therapy that can be applied in many resource-poor settings. Nevertheless, it has been consistently underutilized, and as a result, its potential to reduce child mortality has not been fully exploited. In Ethiopia, the use of ORS therapy for children under five has been inadequate. Like any other health behavior, the provision of ORS therapy to children during diarrheal episodes by caregivers is complex and context dependent. Identifying the factors may help promote wider application.
Design and methods: We used data from the 2016 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS-2016). Samples were selected by a two-stage stratified cluster sampling method. We used data on children under five years of age whose mothers (aged 15-49 years) reported that the child had had diarrhea within two weeks before the survey was conducted (n=1221). The dependent variable was whether these children received ORS therapy. The contextual independent factors were socio-demographic variables (mothers’ age, child’s age, child’s sex, child’s place of residence, household wealth, and mother/ husband/partner’s education levels and work status), as well as media exposure and healthcare utilization.
Results: The prevalence of ORS therapy use among the children was 30%. Mothers who had made at least four prenatal visits during their last pregnancy were 87% more likely to use ORS therapy for their children than those who had fewer prenatal visits (OR=1.874; CI: 1.140-3.082; p=0.013).
Conclusions: Integrating efforts for scaling-up ORS use with prenatal health care services may have an extra benefit of promoting children’s wellbeing and survival.
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