Throughout the 1990s, some eleven million children under the age of five were dying every year in the less-developed nations from preventable illnesses (UNDP 2001:9; WHO 1994; World Bank 1993a:1). These are sobering numbers and are difficult to grasp as aggregate abstractions. They translate to more than 35,000 deaths daily, more than 1,400 children dying every hour of every day of every week and of every month of the year, children whose lives ended before they really had an opportunity to begin. More than half of these deaths were due to respiratory illnesses and to diarrhoea and the severe dehydration that can ensue, exacerbated by malnutrition in a vicious circle of hunger and disease (see Focus 1.1 Saving Lives: ORT).1 Roughly, in the ten seconds it has taken you


Imagine yourself for a moment as a poor rural villager in a less-developed nation with a young child in your care who develops diarrhoea. What would you do to prevent the illness from becoming life threatening?