“NAIROBI, 2 March 2012 (IRIN) – How is it that the world’s most popular fizzy drink reaches even the farthest-flung corners of the planet, yet vast numbers of children in developing countries die for lack of one of the cheapest and most effective preparations known to medical science?
The world’s second-biggest cause of child mortality, diarrhoea, kills about 1.5 million children every year. Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with a simple course of oral rehydration salts (ORS) combined with zinc tablets, at a cost of just US$0.50 per patient.
Yet, despite being heavily promoted by the World Health Organization since the 1970s, fewer than 40 percent of child diarrhoea cases in developing countries are treated with ORS. That figure falls below 1 percent when the treatment includes zinc, which reduces not only the duration and severity of diarrhoeal episodes but also the likelihood of subsequent infections.
“The challenge is not what to do but how to deliver [ORS] at very high coverage,” Abdulai Tinorgah, who heads the UN Children’s Fund’s Child Survival and Development section in Nairobi, told IRIN.”