WHO adds co-packaged ORS and zinc to their Essential Medicines Lists (2) BMA Family Doctor Home Advisor 2001 - Advice on how to make home-based oral rehydration solution

21 July, 2019

Dear Simon and HIFA-Zambia colleagues,

Thank you for the news about inclusion of co-packaged ORS and zinc for the treatment of diarrhoea. On a different but related subject, I picked up a copy of the BMA Family Doctor Home Advisor 2001 recently. This is a hard-copy book that is 'a practical quick-reference guide to symptoms and how to deal with them', published by the British Medical Association. It is written for the general public and parents (not health professionals).

I am especially impressed with their 'easy-to-use question-and-answer flowcharts' which 'help you to interpret your symptoms and recognise medical emergencies'. In theory, this format (if made available also on mobile phones) could help save thousands of lives.

There is one section, however, where I would value expert input from HIFA-Zambia members. In the section on Diarrhoea in babies, the text says 'Rehydration solutions can be made up using powders bought over the counter or by dissolving 2 level teaspoons of sugar in 200ml water'. The same advice is given for older children. (I have not been able to review a later edition of the book.)

I was surprised there is no mention of salt (let alone zinc). All previous guidance I have seen on home-made rehydration solution recommends the addition of salt. I look forward to your comments.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA-Zambia profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of HIFA-Zambia and the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ). Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org