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    ORT: Unicef's fight in Bangladesh. A report from the field.

    Freeman J

    EARTH TIMES. 1996 Oct 16-31; 9(18):9.

    Bangladesh's 20 million children aged 0-5 years experience 75 million episodes of diarrhea per year, with each child experiencing an average of 18 episodes of severe diarrhea by age 5 years. Until recently, one Bangladeshi child out of every 15 died from diarrheal disease before reaching age 5 years. Many who survived experience long-term stunted development. Indeed, due to widespread diarrheal disease and pandemic malnutrition, people in Bangladesh, on average, are becoming shorter over time. The author explains that while diarrhea remains endemic, the level of diarrhea-related mortality has declined. Recent statistics suggest that the level of diarrhea-related mortality among under-fives has fallen to 125,000 per year. The increasing public awareness and acceptance of oral rehydration therapy (ORT), giving diarrhea-dehydrated patients a specific quantity of sugar and salt in solution, were central to the observed reduction in diarrhea-related mortality. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has actively promoted ORT since the 1980s and is now instrumental in organizing a new drive to promote ORT in Bangladesh. The initiative is being funded mainly by a grant of US$6 million from the Dutch government.
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