Pilot Campaigns Halve Deaths
The Do-It-Yourself Version
Hospitals Changing To ORT
Lives - And Growth
Brochure: UNICEF, Duncan Mil and Belinda Magee,
The Observer, London, Photograph: Asem Ansari / ICDDR
Dehydration - caused by diarrhoea - is the biggest single killer of
children in the modern world. Now it can be prevented by oral rehydration therapy (ORT)
using either a sachet of salts or a cheaper homemade version. As a
result, parents themselves could prevent the deaths of several million children each year.
In developing countries, 70% of childhood deaths - over 8 million - are caused by no more than
five conditions - pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and malnutrition. Three out of every four
children who seek healthcare are suffering from one or more of these conditions. Yet low-cost
interventions are available to prevent or treat them.
In Mexico, for example, determined efforts by the government to promote the use of oral
re-hydration therapy - which costs as little as US$0.33 - to immunize children against measles,
and to improve access to safe water and sanitation have succeeded in reducing childhood deaths
from diarrhoeal diseases by 60% in less than a decade. Other key factors in this success have
included an increase in education levels among women, investment of adequate resources and the
widespread use of case management guidelines.
- World Bank - January 2, 2001