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Imagine how this small sachet can save the lives of 10,000 children in the Philippines every year.

© UNICEF Philippines

This empty sachet normally contains a sugar and salt solution called Oral Rehydration Salts, or ORS. It may not look much to begin with, but this small, 3-peso sachet saved Baby Marie Jane’s life. 

And the lives of 57 other children in the coastal town of Gamay, Northern Samar.

Acute diarrhea struck this poor little community when some of its residents unknowingly drank from contaminated water sources.  Baby Marie Jane, just a year old, became listless and weak with every passing hour as the diarrhea continued and dehydration set in.  Her mother Delia watched, tenderly pressing Marie Jane close to her, hoping to somehow save her daughter’s life.

Just when it seemed that all was lost, help arrived in the form of a barangay health worker bearing a small sachet of oral rehydration salts.

Handing Delia the packet, the health worker showed the distraught mother how to prepare and administer the solution to Baby Marie Jane.

With each sip of the drink, life seemed to flow back into Marie Jane’s tiny body. Amazingly, in just a few hours, the child’s condition improved so dramatically that she was on the road to full recovery. You can just imagine the tears of relief and happiness that streamed down Delia’s face as she realised her daughter was saved from suffering and death.

This little packet can spell the difference between life and death for a child suffering from diarrheal dehydration. It is a simple and inexpensive treatment that can be used by almost anyone, anywhere--but we need your help to get it to the children who need it most.

Mixed with safe drinking water, the ORS solution is given to children suffering from dehydration. With three to five doses or sachets of ORS, the essential body fluids of a child under 5 are restored in hours.

Simply put, ORS is life. But tragically, almost 10,000 Filipino children under the age of 5 die every year due to severe diarrheal disease caused by an unsafe and unhygienic environment.

If more children could receive ORS therapy when they need it, many thousands of children like Mary Jane could be saved.  The trouble is, the benefits of ORS therapy are not known to everyone.  And too few mothers know how to administer ORS properly to their young ones.

Wouldn’t you agree that given this simple, inexpensive remedy, the death of 10,000 Filipino children annually is an unacceptable tragedy that can easily be prevented? Diarrheal dehydration can strike anyone, anywhere.  But children are much more likely than adults to succumb to dehydration, because their little bodies are so vulnerable and cannot readily compensate for the loss of water.  And the children who are most likely to suffer from diarrheal dehydration are the ones living in remote, poor communities where there is very low access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.

This senseless tragedy could be avoided if we could increase awareness on good hygiene practices (such as washing hands before meals and after using the toilet) and train more health workers and mothers in thousands of barangays around the country to administer ORS.

UNICEF is doing all this to bring clean water and good sanitation to rural communities across the Philippines and to further prevent unnecessary deaths due to diarrhea. In the past 2 years alone, we have supplied almost half a million ORS sachets to 19 provinces and 5 cities to stop thousands of children from dying needlessly.  But we are urgently asking for your help to reach more children who need this life-saving treatment.

It takes so little to achieve so much. A one-time gift of Php400 can already provide 16 children suffering from severe diarrhea with ORS treatment in combination with zinc supplements. Zinc supplements cost only 1 peso per tablet and prevent the recurrence of diarrhea in the next 2-3 months after the first episode.

Or if you feel you can do more, please consider a one-time contribution of Php800 or more which can help provide a shallow well and water pump for 1 community so that residents can have access to safe, drinking water.

No matter which initiative you support, we promise you that your donation will help children survive and thrive.  Please help us in making this simple but effective ORS remedy available to thousands of children across the country.





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Children First Newsletter (Q4 2009 Issue)

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