Diarrheal Disease is the second leading cause of death of children under 5 years old. Each year around 760,000 children are killed by diarrheal disease, which is both preventable and treatable. It is generally contracted from contaminated food and water sources, resulting in an intestinal infection of a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasitic organisms. Dehydration is the most severe threat posed by Diarrheal Disease, due to the extreme amount of water and electrolytes that are lost. Once a child reaches a dehydrated stage, they must be treated with Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), a mixture of water and electrolytes, or given an intravenous dip. Unfortunately, ORS are not always available, and many doctors are reluctant to prescribe them at an early stage because they traditionally do not have any preventative abilities against diarrhea onset. While ORS continues to save millions of lives, it was originally designed to treat dehydration caused by diarrhea and does not treat the disease agents that cause it, like the cholera bacteria, E. coli, and rotavirus. Therefore, a more efficacious formulation to combat disease-causing agents while facilitating the absorption of nutrients and water is greatly needed.
GHS hopes to formulate a new ORS, called Super-ORS which is designed to replace the lost water and electrolytes and fight infection. In order to do this, we have researched the power of breast feeding, which gives children an antimicrobial community and a strong immunity to many diseases. Preliminary studies show that when components of breast milk are added to ORS, the diarrheal disease time can be reduced by one-third. We are collaborating with physicians and researchers from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) and others to help lessen the burden of diarrheal disease around the world.
See the World Health Organization’s Diarrheal Disease Fact sheet: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs330/en/