FeatureEvidence in Action

A simple recipe for saving lives

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Science  10 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6325, pp. 571
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6325.571

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A liter of water. A fistful of sugar. A half-teaspoon of salt. Years of basic biochemical research and field trials. Widespread adoption of findings by public health agencies and funders. That's the recipe for one major evidence-based public health breakthrough: oral rehydration therapy (ORT), which has helped cut childhood deaths from diarrhea and dehydration in half and saved millions of lives. ORT is credited with helping cut the number of deaths of children under age 5 from some 1.2 million per year to 600,000. In many developing nations, nearly every child suffering from diarrhea receives ORT, in either a prepackaged or homemade form. But in about 15 poor nations, the therapy is still vastly underutilized, studies suggest.