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USAID-supported research leads to new formula of ORS that will save millions of lives

Washington, D.C., Geneva, and New York With support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO) released the new formula of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) today. The new improved formula will save millions of lives and reduce the severity of illness of those suffering from acute diarrhea. It is the result of extensive research supported by USAIDs Child Health Research Project (CHR) and led by WHOs Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development (WHO/CAH) in partnership with researchers in the United States as well as several developing countries. Participating research institutions included the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; India; ICDDR,B: Centre for Health and Population Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Family and Child Survival, Baltimore, MD; and Boston University, Center for International Health, Applied Research on Child Health, Boston, MA.

ORS is a sodium and glucose solution that is widely used to treat children with acute diarrhea, a serious killer of children under five worldwide. The new formula of ORS will reduce the severity of diarrhea and vomiting, the number of hospitalizations, the need for costly intravenous (IV) fluid treatment and the length of illness. It is responsible for saving the lives of millions of children worldwide.

This inexpensive and readily available intervention reduces death and suffering from dehydration caused by diarrhea. Since WHO adopted ORS in 1978 as its primary tool to fight diarrhea, the mortality rate for children suffering from acute diarrhea has fallen from 5 million to 1.3 million deaths annually.

The latest study was conducted in five developing countries among children from one month to two years old with acute diarrhea and dehydration. Its findings suggest that using the low-sodium, low-glucose ORS formulation reduces the need for intravenous fluids by
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Contact: Gina Coco
gcoco@jhsph.edu
410-614-5439
Child Health Research Project
8-May-2002


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