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DripDrop Saves Lives: Notes from the Pediatric Emergency Unit in Kumasi, Ghana

WomenStrong Ghana

DripDrop Saves Lives: Notes from the Pediatric Emergency Unit in Kumasi, Ghana

“Matron Boakye-Agyeman preparing DripDrop® oral rehydration solution for a sick child.”

Dehydration in children younger than five years of age as a result of diarrhea and vomiting, malarial fever and other infections is a major contributory cause of mortality in under-5s in Ghana. The ominous nature of dehydration in children warrants an immediate and effective restoration of body water balance to forestall death. Reducing child mortality has been a key goal of the international community for decades; improving child and family health, perhaps the most essential goal for women worldwide, is a critical objective of Women’s Health to Wealth and WomenStrong International.

The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) Pediatric Emergency Unit, or PEU, is where children with such acute febrile conditions as severe malaria, diarrhea, vomiting, bacterial and viral infections, and other acute medical conditions are initially admitted and stabilized before being transferred to wards for further treatment or discharged.

Severe diarrhea and vomiting, either as an additional symptom to an underlying disease or as a diagnosis itself, is the third most frequent cause of admission to the PEU. In July 2015, Women’s Health to Wealth donated 30 cases of DripDrop® Hydration Powder to the PEU, containing 5760 units of 10g packs, to assist the unit in the effective management of dehydration of children with indicative conditions.

The most widely used cure for rehydration, for these diseases as for severe malnutrition, is oral rehydration solution, or ORS, which combine sugars, salts and other ingredients and which is credited with saving some three million children annually. Most of the solutions on the market don’t taste very good, however, meaning that children well enough to balk at the unappetizing or medicinal taste simply won’t drink the stuff. The formula for DripDrop®, developed by a San Francisco-based family physician, Dr. Eduardo Dolhun, combines medical-standard hydration with child-friendly flavors, making it easier and more appealing for children to get the solution down and to finish the course of treatment. Dr. Dolhun’s ORS product has gained wide acceptance in hospitals and is now marketed through his own firm, DripDrop Inc.

In September, two months after the DripDrop donation was made, WHW paid a follow-up visit to KATH’s PEU to discuss with the staff the usefulness or otherwise of the medication and the relative effectiveness of DripDrop® as compared with other oral rehydration salts in preventing or reversing dehydration. As attested to by some key PEU staff, illustrated below, the results are clear, and striking:

Mrs Felicia Boakye-Agyeman, Matron-in-Charge of the Pediatric Emergency Unit at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital:
> “Since DripDrop® Hydration Powder was received till now (a period of two months after the donation), the ward admitted 51 cases of diarrhea and vomiting. These children were given DripDrop® oral rehydration solution prepared at the unit. All 51 cases tolerated the drug very well, and over 90 percent of the cases had the diarrhea stopping completely within 24 hours. Unlike the other oral rehydration solutions, the DripDrop® solution has a very pleasant taste, and the children willingly consume adequate amounts with little no coaxing, thereby ensuring complete rehydration within a significantly shorter period.”

Dr. Maame Serwaa Asafo Agyei, a PEU pediatrician:
> I observed that the DripDrop® oral solution causes the dehydration in the children to reduce and stop more promptly. I have also noted that because of the fruity taste of DripDrop® oral solution, the children are able to take in more, as compared with the other types of solutions, and this has helped to minimize the number of children eventually requiring intravenous fluids to correct their dehydration. The inclusion of zinc in the DripDrop® Hydration powder eliminates the additional zinc tablet that has to be added to the other oral rehydration solutions that have no zinc. This product is superb.

> Now there has been a reduction in number of admissions of cases of diarrhea and vomiting, because when such cases come to the PEU and the solution is prepared and given to them, their condition improves so quickly that they are discharged home with some of the drug. DripDrop® is a good drug that has come to support our interventions for diarrhea control. We thank Women’s Health to Wealth for the donation of the drug to the unit.

The usefulness of the DripDrop® Hydration Powder in addressing the rehydration of children with diarrhea and vomiting at the KATH PEU is worthy of note, as it not only reduces the workload of the already overworked staff, hospital costs and health bills for families but ultimately saves lives! Women’s Health to Wealth would like to acknowledge the support of our partner, AmeriCares, who made the supplies possible, and to WomenStrong International, which supports all the activities of WHW.

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