ORS and Zinc

ORS and Zinc

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.

Access to ORS and Zinc could prevent more than 1/2 of diarrhea deaths
Map of ORS and Zinc essential medicines listings from 2018
Graphic showing ORS packet and Zinc tablet

Ever heard of the saying, "Small things can make a big difference?" Take the humble packet of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), for example: a simple yet effective lifesaver

State of the Field Report

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.