Oral rehydration salts (ORS) manufacturers are making their products more attractive by introducing new packaging designs with smaller sachet size and informative pictures.
The move comes in response to a new study by the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the UK's University of Warwick that shows improved packaging appearance could increase consumption of important medicines in developing countries.
As part of the study, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and CHAI researchers have surveyed 600 caregivers in India, Nigeria and Uganda, who said the current packaging designs had inappropriately large sachets, lacked clear usage detail and were visually unappealing.
Consequently, the manufacturers are revamping their packaging designs with smaller sachet size to reduce wastage and more informative pictures.
WMG researcher Peter M Ward said: "Every additional sachet of ORS sold because of improved aesthetic appeal has the potential to save the life of a child with diarrhoea. Making simple changes to the packaging of an existing product is an easily implementable strategy that could begin immediately."
CHAI supply and distribution manager (essential medicines) and co-author of the report Kate Kynvin said: "The majority of ORS sachets on the market are packaged to make a litre of solution.
"A primary concern of the rural caregivers interviewed was the inconvenience and wastage created through sourcing a litre of clean water to make a solution that needed to be consumed within a 24h time period. Reducing the sachet size to make a smaller volume will reduce this potential for waste, reduce the cost per sachet and increase product appeal."
Additionally, manufacturers will add flavour to make the ORS more acceptable to infants to treat dehydration.
Around 600,000 deaths are reported across the world every year due to infant dehydration.