Jul 24, 2019
The currency of our trade is data, not miracles. Lifesaving oral rehydration solution (ORS) blurs these lines.
Oral rehydration solution (ORS) and zinc is the global standard for diarrhea treatment.
In its simplest presentation, ORS is a mix of water, sugar, and salt. This combination speeds replacement of fluids in the body. It has saved millions of lives and costs just pennies.
Following ORS, a course of zinc, a micronutrient, reduces the duration and severity of diarrhea. Zinc strengthens the immune system, helps speed recovery, and may prevent diarrhea episodes for up to three months.
Globally, less than half of children have access to ORS, and access to the ORS + zinc is 15%. Access is often lowest where the burden is highest.
In July 2019, the World Health Organization added co-packaged ORS and zinc to its Essential Medicines List, a policy document that will help encourage countries to also prioritize the co-pack in their expenditures, procurement and supply, and training of healthcare providers.
The success of ORS and zinc treatment depends on community awareness, affordability, and uptake. Co-packaged ORS and zinc can help address access gaps, and precision mapping can help reveal where availability is still low.