WHO adds co-packaged ORS and zinc to their Essential Medicines Lists

21 July, 2019

On Tuesday (9-Jul-19) WHO released the latest editions of their Model Essential Medicines Lists: the core list (21st edition) and the Essential Medicines List for Children (7th edition).

Both lists now include co-packaged ORS and zinc for the treatment of diarrhoea. This has been the globally recommended treatment for 15 years but today only around 7% of cases are treated with both ORS and zinc. One under 5 child dies every minute from diarrhoea and diarrhoea contributes significantly to stunting.

The application to make this change was initiated by the UK-based charity ColaLife but was a truly global effort coordinated through the Diarrhoea Innovations Group. The application had 10 authors and received 17 letters of support (16 of which were published publicly).

A key argument in our application was that while ORS and zinc are only listed separately on the EML, they will tend to be procured separately, supplied separately, distributed separately, and seldom dispensed together. Evidence presented in the application - a lot of which came from Zambia - shows that co-packaging will transform this situation.

Please spread the word. Global impact will depend on this change being cascaded down to national Essential Medicines Lists. Although Zambia has already updated theirs.

ColaLife's blog post on this addition is here and includes a timeline of our application process (which may be useful to others looking to apply for changes to the next lists in 2021):


PATH's Press Release is here:


The new lists are available here:

Core list: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/325771

EML for Children: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/325772

The application and letters of support are available here:




Please excuse any syntax errors. This email was sent from my phone.

Simon Berry

co-founder and ceo, ColaLife

Mobile and WhatsApp: +44 7932 107109

Skype: sxberry


HIFA profile: Simon Berry is Founder and CEO of ColaLife, United Kingdom and Zambia. Professional interests: Open Innovation and cross-sector partnerships for health. simon AT colalife.org