Scaling up of evidence-based management and prevention of childhood diarrhea is a public health priority in India, and necessitates robust literature review, for advocacy and action.

To identify, synthesize and summarize current evidence to guide scaling up of management of diarrhea among under-five children in India, and identify existing knowledge gaps.

A set of questions pertaining to the management (prevention, treatment, and control) of childhood diarrhea was identified through a consultative process. A modified systematic review process developed a priori was used to identify, synthesize and summarize, research evidence and operational information, pertaining to the problem in India. Areas with limited or no evidence were identified as knowledge gaps.

Childhood diarrhea is a significant public health problem in India; the point (two-weeks) prevalence is 9–20%. Diarrhea accounts for 14% of the total deaths in under-five children in India. Infants aged 6–24 months are at the highest risk of diarrhea. There is a lack of robust nation-wide data on etiology; rotavirus and diarrheogenic E.coli are the most common organisms identified. The current National Guidelines are sufficient for case-management of childhood diarrhea. Exclusive breastfeeding, handwashing and point-of-use water treatment are effective strategies for prevention of all-cause diarrhea; rotavirus vaccines are efficacious to prevent rotavirus specific diarrhea. ORS and zinc are the mainstay of management during an episode of childhood diarrhea but have low coverage in India due to policy and programmatic barriers, whereas indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other drugs is common. Zinc therapy given during diarrhea can be upscaled through existing infrastructure is introducing the training component and information, education and communication activities.

This systematic review summarizes current evidence on childhood diarrhea and provides evidence to inform child health programs in India.

Indian Pediatrics, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 627–649

South-East Asia India