Diarrhoeal diseases have long been recognised as leading causes of global illness and death and are the commonest cause of deaths among children. Medical estimates have calculated that diarrhoea will claim 92 million lives by 2025.
During protracted war and conflict in particular, simple diarrhoeal diseases can often kill more people than the fighting itself, as communities are dislodged and existing healthcare services are thrown into chaos. Many of these deaths, which disproportionately affect those living in the developing world, are largely preventable.
The treatment of most cases of diarrhoea is essentially the treatment of dehydration and electrolyte disturbances - replacing the fluid and salts being lost. In global terms, ORS is arguably the most important medical discovery since penicillin.