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Integrating oral rehydration therapy into community action programs: what role for private voluntary organizations?
Washington, D. C., CEFPA, 1980. 42 p.A workshop, sponsored by the Centre for Population Activities, the National Council for International Health, and the Pan American Health Organization, meet in 1980 to discuss the use of ORT (oral rehydration therapy) in health and development programs and to determine how private and voluntary organizations could be encouraged to become involved in efforts to extend ORT availability. ORT is a technique for reducing dehydration in patients suffering from prolonged diarrhea. Diarrhea related dehydration is a serious problem among children in developing countries, especially among malnourished children. In 1975, 5 million children under 5 years of age died from diarrhea in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The therapy consists of administering a solution of sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, glucose, and water to the patient in order to balance the composition of body fluid. Initially the solution had to be administered intravenously at a treatment center; however, the solution can now be administered orally to mildly or moderately dehydrated patients by the patient's family in the home setting. The solution is given to the patient frequently and amount is determined by the patient's thirst for the solution. Packets containing enough dry ingredients to mix with 1 liter of water are now available. These packets can be centrally or locally manufactured. The solution can be mixed at health centers upon request, or the packets can be distributed directly to family members who are then taught how to mix and administer the solution. Various community action programs can incorporate an ORT component. Personnel in these community action programs, working at all organizational levels, should receive training in ORT. Community workers should receive intensive training so that they in turn can teach families in the community to use the therapy. The programs should use all available communication channels to send out accurate messages about ORT. The program should also organize the distribution of the packets and develop evaluation procedures for the ORT program component. WHO, UNICEF, USAID, and the National Council for International Health provide various forms of assistance to governments or to private and voluntary organizations interested in developing ORT programs.