Cleanliness is the key to preventing diarrhoea | Western Cape Government

Cleanliness is the key to preventing diarrhoea

Every year, thousands of children across the province access Western Cape Government health facilities seeking treatment for dehydration due to diarrhoea. 

Dr attending to sick and tired baby

If your child suffers from diarrhoea or a runny tummy, vomits or refuses to breastfeed, then a sugar-salt solution is recommended. If the upset tummy or lack of appetite persists, it's best to take your child to the nearest clinic immediately.

Don't wait in the queue – please report to reception immediately.

3 Ways we can prevent infection in children and babies:

1. Wash your hands

It's vital to wash your hands in between activities. In other words, if you've changed your baby’s nappy and are now going to feed him or her, you must wash or sanitise your hands first.

If your home doesn't have running water, it's helpful to keep a plastic bottle filled with water handy so you can rinse your hands with clean water after washing them.

Follow these 4 steps to make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly:

  1.     Wet your hands and cover with soap.
  2.     Remember to turn the tap off while soaping your hands. 
  3.     Rub hands palm-to-palm, with fingers interlocked.
  4.     Rinse with water and dry with a clean towel.
  5.     Turn off the tap with a towel to prevent picking up germs.

2. Keep play and eating areas clean

It's important to wash toys, feeding bottles and dummies in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Teething toys must be kept separately and rinsed regularly. Don’t let garbage lie around or allow children to play in puddles as dirty water spreads disease. 

3. Keep the area around your home clean

Two teenage girls having fun whilst washing dishes at home Be sure to clean up animal waste immediately. Don't leave garbage lying around as it attracts flies, which can cause illness. Other things that cause illness includes dirty water, broken toilets and contaminated food. 

All Western Cape Government Health facilities have Oral Rehydration Treatment corners or rooms. Mothers and caregivers should visit these areas for information about the prevention and treatment of diarrhoea and how to make the sugar-salt solution when their children show early signs of diarrhoea.

How to identify diarrhoea

Your child is probably suffering from diarrhoea if they:

  • have a fever,
  • are vomiting,
  • have blood in their stools, or
  • refuse to eat or drink.

How to identify dehydration

If your child gets diarrhoea, check for the following signs of dehydration:

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Lack of urine, or only a very small amount of dark yellow urine
  • Dry, cool skin
  • Tiredness and irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Headache and stomach ache
  • Thirstiness

How to treat dehydration

If your child gets diarrhoea, give them the sugar-salt solution, a mixture of 8 teaspoons of sugar and a half teaspoon of salt in 1 litre of cooled, boiled water to prevent dehydration. If their condition doesn't improve, take them to your nearest clinic

Getting tips and more information

Don’t wait in the queue – go straight to the receptionist for immediate attention. For more tips on managing diarrhoea, speak to a healthcare worker at your nearest clinic or listen to these diarrhoeal prevention and treatment radio adverts:









































The content on this page was last updated on 13 February 2019