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  • Context (TH): The misconceptions about Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) led to their reduced prescription for diarrhoea treatment.

Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS)

  • ORS is a medical formulation used to treat dehydration caused by diarrhoea, vomiting, and excessive sweating.
  • It consists of a precise balance of water, electrolytes (salts), and sugar.
  • The typical formulation, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), includes Sodium chloride (salt), Glucose (sugar), Potassium chloride, and Trisodium citrate.

How Does ORS Work?

  • Electrolytes: These minerals, primarily sodium and potassium, aid in fluid absorption and maintain proper bodily functions.
  • Sugar (Glucose): It helps the intestines absorb water and electrolytes more efficiently.

Uses of ORS

  • To prevent or treat dehydration caused by diarrhoea, which can be life-threatening, especially in children and the elderly.
  • To replace fluids lost through sweating during intense physical activity or heatstroke.

Reasons for under-prescription of ORS

  • Provider Misconceptions: Healthcare providers may incorrectly believe that patients do not want ORS, perhaps due to its taste or the perception that it is not a “real” medicine.
  • Financial Incentives: There is a financial motive to prescribe more profitable medications over ORS.
    • Antibiotics and other treatments can be more expensive, potentially generating more profit for the provider or healthcare facility.
  • Stock-outs: Instances where ORS is not available due to stock-outs lead to under-prescription.

Programs Promoting ORS Usage

National Health Mission (NHM)

  • The government provides ORS packets and Zinc tablets free of cost at public health facilities.
  • Promotes ORS along with Zinc supplementation for managing diarrhoea in children.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

  • Promotes ORS for treating dehydration caused by diarrhoea.

Intensified diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF)

  • Focuses on reducing child deaths due to diarrhoea by promoting ORS and Zinc therapy.
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