Experts Advocate WHO-Recommended ORS Over High Sugar Drinks for Safe Hydration
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Written by Arushi Sharma
24 May, 2024
1 min read
The HEAL Foundation conference emphasizes the importance of WHO-recommended ORS over sugary drinks in combating dehydration, particularly among children.
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HEAL Foundation conference advocates WHO-recommended ORS over sugary drinks for combating dehydration, emphasizing children's health.

In a bid to raise awareness regarding the critical role of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) in combating dehydration, particularly among children, the HEAL Foundation recently organized a conference titled "Selecting WHO-Recommended ORS for Safe and Effective Hydration vs High Sugar Drinks." The event aimed to underscore the importance of choosing ORS over sugary beverages, given the significant health risks associated with improper hydration practices, especially in regions where diarrhoea remains a leading cause of mortality among children.

Despite ORS being deemed an essential medicine by the World Health Organization (WHO), recent data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) reveals that only 60.6 percent of children suffering from diarrhoea receive ORS, indicating a glaring gap in awareness and utilization of this life-saving intervention.

Dr. Vibhor Borkar, Director of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Liver Transplant at Nanavati Max Superspecialty Hospital, emphasized the critical importance of administering the correct formulation of ORS. Dr. Borkar warned against the use of incorrect salt or sugar compositions, underscoring the potential dangers associated with disrupting the delicate balance of water and electrolytes in the body. He stressed that improper homemade solutions or consumption of high-sugar drinks could exacerbate dehydration and pose serious health risks, including fatalities.
Echoing Dr. Borkar's sentiments, Dr. Lalit Verma, Lead and Senior Consultant at the Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant at Gleneagles Hospital, highlighted the indispensable role of WHO-approved ORS formulations in dehydration management. Dr. Verma emphasized that the glucose-sodium and potassium ratio in WHO-recommended ORS is tailored for rapid absorption of water and electrolytes, making it a crucial intervention for treating dehydration effectively. He urged individuals to make informed choices by opting for WHO-approved ORS over sugary beverages, particularly during the summer months, to safeguard overall health, especially that of children.

The conference served as a platform for experts to advocate for the widespread adoption of WHO-recommended ORS formulations as the standard of care for hydration management, underscoring the imperative of prioritizing health and well-being, particularly in vulnerable populations.

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