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Oral Rehydration Therapy
Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) History
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Management of Diarrhoea and use of ORT
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25 Years of Saving Lives
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Brochure: A Pocket Reference for Scouts
ORT: Elixir of life
ORT: Saved My Daughter's Life
ORT: Success Stories

Oral Rehydration Therapy: Success Stories

Pilot Campaigns Halve Deaths
The Do-It-Yourself Version
Hospitals Changing To ORT
Saving Lives - And Growth
Brochure: UNICEF, Duncan Mil and Belinda Magee,
The Observer, London, Photograph: Asem Ansari / ICDDR

ORT - Success Stories
Dehydration - caused by diarrhoea - is the biggest single killer of children in the modern world. Now it can be prevented by oral rehydration therapy (ORT) using either a sachet of salts or a cheaper homemade version. As a result, parents themselves could prevent the deaths of several million children each year. Childhood Diseases

In developing countries, 70% of childhood deaths - over 8 million - are caused by no more than five conditions - pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and malnutrition. Three out of every four children who seek healthcare are suffering from one or more of these conditions. Yet low-cost interventions are available to prevent or treat them. In Mexico, for example, determined efforts by the government to promote the use of oral re-hydration therapy - which costs as little as US$0.33 - to immunize children against measles, and to improve access to safe water and sanitation have succeeded in reducing childhood deaths from diarrhoeal diseases by 60% in less than a decade. Other key factors in this success have included an increase in education levels among women, investment of adequate resources and the widespread use of case management guidelines. - World Bank - January 2, 2001

Pilot Campaigns Halve Deaths
Field trials with ORT have reduced diarrhoea deaths by 50% in villages and urban neighbourhoods of "ORT can rightly be called the medical miracle of this century .... For peoples in Asia, Africa and Latin American, ORT holds the promise of healthier childhoods and more productive adult lives."

Shamsul Hag. Minister for Health and Population Control, Government of Bangladesh.

THE DO-IT-YOURSELF VERSION How do I prepare an ORS solution at home?

For preventing dehydration, an equally effective oral rehydration solution can be made using ingredients found in almost every household:
  1. Clean Water - 1 litre
    - 5 cupfuls (each cup about 200 ml.)
  2. Sugar - Six level teaspoons
  3. Salt - Half level teaspoon
  4. Stir the mixture till the sugar dissolves

Some traditional remedies - such as conjee or carrot soup - also make highly effective oral rehydration solutions.


Many hospitals in both poor and rich countries are now changing from intravenous therapy to ORT.

Note : Median figure for 8 hospitals in developing countries.



Frequent diarrhoea is one of the most important causes of malnutrition. The use of ORT can help to maintain a child's growth: A Turkish study on two groups of children - one with and one without ORT

Average Duration of Illness:
- with ORT - 2.57 days
- without ORT - 4.97 days Monthly Average Weight Gain:
- with ORT - 430 gms
- without ORT - 324 gms

"We believe that, ultimately, widespread adoption of ORT in developing countries will break the vicious cycle of diarrhoea, malnutrition, and death - especially for the principal victims: very young children."
Dr. W B Greennough, Director, International Centre of Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh.

updated: 23 August, 2019