nutrition

Drink Malawi Study Aims to Reduce Childhood Deaths

Every year 750,000 children die from diarrheal disease.  This means in Malawi, nearly one out of every five children will not live to see their fifth birthday.   What compounds the tragedy is that these diseases are preventable and treatable.

Most diarrheal disease-related deaths are due to dehydration.  Since 1978, there has been a standard Oral Rehydration Solution or “ORS” – a mixture of clean water, salt, and sugar to replace fluids and electrolytes.  This mixture is safe, effective, and inexpensive, and it can be administered quickly and easily with no special training.

So, why are so many children still dying?   It may be because mothers cannot get their children to drink ORS, because it tastes very salty, describing it as “drinking the ocean in glass.”  Many sick children reject the life-saving drink, too young to understand the fatal consequences.

Africare and the University of Malawi have teamed up to find a solution.  Through the DRINK MALAWI Project at The Institute for Child Wellness in Africa, and with support from the Jackson Kemper Foundation, TICWA investigators are assessing a fortified new formula* that is more pleasant-tasting and therefore likely to save more children.  The unique balance of salts and sugars with fast-absorbing citrate gives it a pleasant taste.  Through DRINK MALAWI, we believe that Africare and TICWA are on the brink of revolutionizing dehydration treatment and saving hundreds of thousands of children from a cruel, preventable death.

 

*In partnership with the DripDrop Foundation

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