|For Immediate Publication - Press Release
Over Eight Hundred Thousand people unite on July 29, 2001 - ORS Day to
spread the message "ORS Saves Lives"
Indian Academy of Pediatrics, IAP, and Partners Intensify Promotion of ORS to Prevent Childhood Diarrhea Deaths in India
New Delhi, July 29, 2001…….. July 29, 2001 declared as ORS Day by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, is part of a major effort, aimed at reducing childhood diarrhea deaths. At a special function held in New Delhi, The Hon. Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Padmashree Dr. C. P. Thakur extended his continued support to the cause of promoting ORS as a life saving solution. Members of
IAP, Dr. G.S. Hathi, Dr. Y.C. Mathur, Dr. Dilip Mukherjee were part of the forum who came together along with their partner Mr. Walter North, Director,
USAID, Mr. R. Kannan, General Manager, ICICI and members of the All India Organisation of Chemist & Druggists to exchange views and evolve strategies on a subject critical in saving the lives of lakhs of children i.e. the use of
ORS. ORS DAY also acknowledged the work of Dr. Dilip Mahalanobis, illustrious Indian scientist, who was a member of the original team that developed ORS, working in Calcutta, simultaneously with colleagues in Dhaka. Recently the first ever Gates Award, for US $ 1 million was given to the Dhaka institution for the development of ORS, the incredibly powerful scientific, yet simple technology that has saved millions of lives over the years. In India, ORS has saved the lives of over 500,000 children every year. The Indian Academy of Pediatrics and partners have been expanding and intensifying efforts to promote the use of ORS along with continued breastfeeding and food, for all children with diarrhea. IAP branches, particularly in the Northern Hindi speaking states, have simultaneously organised a number of awareness generation activities, including television interviews, community meetings and doctors' seminars. The All India Organisation of Druggists and Chemists,
AIODC, conducted a rally in Delhi with members of their fraternity, expressing solidarity behind the cause. Institutions representing over 8 lakh people, including 13,000 members of
IAP, 2.5 lakh members of IMA and 5.5 lakh members from the All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists, from across the country came together to pledge their support to promoting the message
"ORS Saves Lives". Despite the great impact that ORS has had in the past decade, diarrhea still remains the main cause of childhood deaths, accounting for over 6 lakh deaths every year or to be precise 1,666 deaths every day. Many of these lives could have been saved had these children been given ORS from the onset of diarrhea. ORS, recommended by the World Health Organisation, WHO, also known as WHO composition or citrate IP ORS, replaces fluid and electrolyte loss that can lead to dehydration, a the most common cause of death from diarrhea. Celebrating ORS DAY on July 29, 2001 draws significance, given the fact that the month of July heralds the beginning of the monsoon season and along with it ushers in the deadly disease diarrhea. Promoting awareness among the masses and most importantly among vulnerable groups more prone to the disease during the monsoons thus gathers more importance. The major focus of discussion at the ORS Day function was strategies to increase the prescription, recommendation and, most importantly, correct use of ORS - WHO composition, along with breastfeeding and food, for all children with diarrhea. Doctors emphasised that ORS, WHO composition is scientific, modern, internationally recommended first line therapy for all types of diarrhea. Representatives of AIOCD emphasised that it is important for chemists to recommend and dispense any of the WHO composition brands in the market such as
Electrobion, Punarjal, Peditral, Prolyte, Relyte and Woodwards' ORS. It was highlighted that parents should keep ORS - WHO compositions at home, particularly during the diarrhea season, from May to September. Since the beginning of this campaign, IAP has conducted over 100 seminars for doctors on the subject of ORS. Over 7,800 doctors attended these seminars and assigned a prescription scroll pledging to "prescribe ORS for all patients with diarrhea". ORS Day is organised by IAP in association USAID and PACT - Child & Reproductive Health
(PACTH - CRH) programme implemented by ICICI limited, with technical assistance by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH).
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Quote of Dr. C. P. Thakur, Hon. Minister of Health & Family Welfare: "The role of the Government of India is to spread the awareness of ORS. As a doctor I believe in the medicinal values of ORS, its wonderful power, yet being the simplest cure for a deadly disease like diarrhea. It has been my experience that use of antibiotics in most diarrhea cases actually aggravate the situation, rather than doing good" Quote of Dr. Y. C. Mathur, Secretary, IAP:
"IAP aims to be a true representative of Child Health in India and an academy in its truest sense. In years to come IAP expects to reach to a level where they will be quoted as experts in Pediatric Studies." Quote of Dr. Jon E Rhode:
"It will be a mistake if the message of ORS does not go out of this room. While there is every reason to celebrate that the number of Deaths has come down considerably but there is a lot more to achieve. I would request organisations like IMA and IAP to come forth and spread the message not just among the people but amongst the doctors. Many doctors still do not prescribe ORS and that is what we have to change." Quote of Dr. M. K. Bhan, AIIMS:
"It is not just the use of ORS that we have to look at but we have the larger nutritional aspect of the children that will help in their development. This has to be done at all levels from doctors and parents to local health organisations." Quote of Mr. Walter North, USAID, Mr. R. Kannan, ICICI, Mr. Dilip Mehta, AIOCD & Mr. Sharad Lakhotia, IMA:
"It is heartening to see the various sectors coming together to promote
such a noble cause as the spread of ORS."