ORS is a sodium and glucose solution that is widely used to treat children with acute diarrhea.
The new formula ORS will reduce the severity of diarrhea and vomiting, the number of hospitalizations, the need for costly intravenous fluid treatment, and the length of illness.
This inexpensive and readily available intervention reduces death and suffering from dehydration caused by diarrhea.
Since WHO adopted ORS in 1978 as its primary tool to fight diarrhea, the mortality rate for children suffering from acute diarrhea has fallen from 5 million to 1.3 million deaths annually.
The new improved formula is the result of extensive research sponsored by WHO's Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development and supported by the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID).
The latest study was conducted in 5 developing countries, among children from 1 month to 2 years old with acute diarrhea and dehydration.
| New formula ORS reduces need for IV fluids by 33%.
The study's findings suggest that using the low-sodium, low-glucose ORS formulation can reduce the need for intravenous fluids by 33%.
The effect of this reduction could result in fewer children requiring hospitalization, fewer secondary infections, a diminished need to handle blood, and lower health care costs.
"Oral Rehydration Therapy is one of the great public health success stories of our time," according to Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO.
"Reducing childhood deaths from diarrhea by half in 10 years is a notable success but, despite this progress, diarrhea remains a major cause of death.
"This week, at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, governments will endorse a new goal to reduce deaths from diarrhea by a further 50% by 2010."
Use of the new formula ORS will begin later this year in India.