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A Simple Solution

Sugar, Salt and Water

A Simple Solution

A pinch of salt, a handful of sugar and some clean water is all that is needed to save up to two million children who die each year from diarrhoea.

  How to prepare One (1) Litre Oral Rehydration Solution [ORS] using Sugar, Salt and Water at Home

Diarrhoea causes one-fifth of child deaths worldwide, and in poor countries children suffer the dehydrating condition about four times a year.

In addition to focusing on ways to stop diarrhea from striking, health authorities ought to ensure care-givers know how to use the re-hydrating recipe, which can be home-made.

Diarrhea is defined by the WHO as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day, normally the symptom of gastrointestinal infection which can be caused by bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms.

It can spread through contaminated food or drinking water, or from person-to-person with bad hygiene. When left untreated, severe fluid loss from diarrhea can cause can lead to death.

Health and aid workers typically hand out pre-packaged "oral re-hydration salts" and zinc tablets, costing a combined 30 U.S. cents per treatment course, to fight diarrhoeal outbreaks.

But the home-made version of the re-hydrating solution also save lives and more efforts should be made to educate parents and caregivers about the often-overlooked treatment option.

Ensuring that people have basic knowledge to avoid infection from water-borne diseases is fundamental if we are to reduce the number of deaths caused by consumption of infected water.


TIME Europe Magazine Oct. 16, 2006 | Vol. 168, No. 17
TIME Europe
16 October 2006

[pdf 2.16Mb]
Diarrhea kills more young children around the world than malaria, AIDS and TB combined. Yet a simple and inexpensive treatment can prevent many of those deaths. Why isn't it more widely used?

A Simple Solution
In the West, it's an inconvenience, but, in the developing world, it can be a death sentence. It kills millions of children every year, yet the treatment is a simple mixture of salt, sugar and water. So why isn't more being done to fight diarrhea?

Surviving Diarrhea
Most deaths from diarrhea can be prevented by giving the victim oral rehydration. A guide to how it works

In this article, published in Time Magazine in October 2006, the author Andrea Gerlin, investigates the reasons why diarrhoea still kills 1.9 million children every year, and why Oral Rehydration Solution is not more widely used throughout the world.

Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health GuidesHesperian Health Guides is a nonprofit health information and health education source that develops accessible materials in many languages. Access free information in Hesperian's HealthWiki related to dehydration, rehydration, and preventing and treating diarrheal diseases.

Belly Pain, Diarrhea, and Worms: Available in English, Portuguese, and French
Health Problems from Unsafe Water: Available in English and Spanish
Protecting Community Water: Available in English and Spanish
Building Toilets: Available in English and Spanish

More resources from Hesperian Health Guides

A Simple Solution


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