Oral Rehydration Salt is a dry mixture of powder containing Sodium Chloride, Trisodium Citrate dehydrate, Potassium Chloride and anhydrous glucose. It is used for prevention and treatment of dehydration due to diarrhoea including maintenance therapy. Acute diarrhoeal diseases are among the leading causes of mortality in infants and young children in India. In most cases, death is caused by dehydration. Dehydration from diarrhoea can be prevented by giving extra fluids at home, or it can be treated simply, effectively, and cheaply in all age-groups and in all but the most severe cases by giving patients by mouth an adequate glucose-electrolyte solution called Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution. Oral Rehydration Therapy was first researched in the 1940s but it was twenty years later before the idea was developed by research institutions in Bangladesh and India for the management of severe cholera. It was adopted in 1978 as primary tool to fight diarrhoea and since then has saved million of deaths of children, but still there is grave need to promotes its use and enhance its access.
National family Health Survey III reveals that in the developing State like Madhya Pradesh only 28.6 % children with diarrhoea in last two weeks had received the ORS. Madhya Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate in India. 76 children die out of the thousand born within the first year of their life; diarrhoea is one of the contributors to the same. State also has high incidence of malnutrition among children especially under three years of age, when malnourished child suffers with diarrhoea it aggravates the situation and increase chances of his or her mortality.
It is an indication that there is an urgent need to expand awareness among communities on its importance, its use and enhance its accessibility for communities not only on ORS day but thorughout the year. Though officially State has many stocking points of ORS like Anganwadi centre's, sub health centre's and primary health care centre's but more important is its accessibility at time when it is needed and knowledge its right usage by the communities and parents of the children when they need the most. Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Madhya Pradesh's medium term strategy document states that diarrhoeal disease episodes per year is 760 per one lakh population and it projects that by year 2015 it will increase to 880 episodes per lakh.
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(These views expressed in the piece are personal opinion of the writer )