Feasibility of home treatment of diarrhoea with packaged rice-based oral rehydration salts (R-ORS) was compared, in terms of cost, with that for glucose-based oral rehydration salts (G-ORS). Packets of G-ORS (World Health Organization-recommended composition) were distributed in two Bangladeshi villages (G-ORS area). Packets of R-ORS with similar composition, except that glucose was replaced with rice flour (50 g/l), were distributed in other two villages (R-ORS area). During the 7-month study period, 1061 and 1348 diarrhoeal episodes were detected among 409 under-five children in each of the study areas. R-ORS was used, either alone or in combination with drugs, to treat 662 (62%) episodes in the R-ORS area, compared to 1101 (82%) episodes in the G-ORS area. The treatment cost per episode was more with R-ORS than with G-ORS, though fewer R-ORS packets were used per episode. Among others, the main factor for the higher cost was found to be the higher production cost of R-ORS packets. Expected early recovery from diarrhoea with use of R-ORS was not observed in this study. Under the study situation, the feasibility of home treatment of diarrhoea with packaged R-ORS was not apparent.
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