Making ORT a household habitDiarrhoeal dehydration is a leading child killer in developing countries, largely because of inadequate sanitation. It claimed the lives of an estimated 2.2 million children under age 5 in 1995 alone. As many as 90% of these deaths could have been prevented with ORT (oral rehydration therapy).
ORTódefined by WHO in 1993 as an increased volume of fluids, either oral rehydration salts (ORS) or other recommended home fluids, along with continued feedingóaddresses the dehydration promptly, by replacing body fluids lost by diarrhoea at the first sign of the disease.
the 15 developing countries listed come down with diarrhoea from 2 to 6
times each year. In 10 of these countries, more than 80% of children are
given ORT; in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Pakistan, virtually every
child is treated with ORT.
Yet, while significant progress has been made in recent years, it is difficult to accurately measure the gains. A previous definition of ORT simply called for giving the child ORS or home fluids, without specifying the importance of the volume of fluids or of continued feeding. Since the definition was modified only in 1993, most survey data, including those in this table, are still based on the earlier definition. About three quarters of the households in developing countries now use ORT as defined before 1993, up from 38% in 1994. But only about one third of homes now use ORT following the new definition, a more effective treatment for diarrhoeal dehydration.
% of diarrhoeal
|Congo, Dem. Rep.||50||90|
|*Oral rehydration salts/recommended
Note: Estimated diarrhoeal episodes are best estimates from a variety of sources.
Sources: National household surveys including DHS and MICS reports, 1993-1996.