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Infant mortality rates could be lowered through improved medicine packaging designs

The usage of key medicines in developing countries could be significantly increased through improved packaging appearance, a new study by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI) and the University of Warwick finds.

Infant dehydration due to diarrhoea results in 600,000 deaths annually in the developing world due to inappropriate or no treatment. Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) combats this dehydration.

The WMG and CHAI researchers worked with over 600 caregivers in India, Nigeria and Uganda to assess their responses to existing and potential new ORS packaging designs. The study found that simple changes to packaging led to significant increases in the willingness of caregivers to provide ORS to their children. Caregivers indicated that current packaging designs had inappropriately large sachets, lacked clear usage detail and were visually unappealing.

While there were some national differences, caregivers in all three countries shared key preferences. As a result, ORS manufacturers are introducing three new packaging designs which will feature smaller sachet size to reduce wastage plus brighter and more informative pictures to more accurately reflect the product’s effectiveness. Additionally, flavour will be added to make the ORS more acceptable to infants.

Study co-author Peter M. Ward, a researcher at the University of Warwick’s WMG, argues that improving ORS packaging is one further step towards addressing health issues in the developing world:

“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”.

Kate Kynvin, Supply and Distribution Manager (Essential Medicines) at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI) and study co-author, 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 24-hour 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.”

Commenting on the collaboration Peter said:

“The research marks the first collaboration between WMG and CHAI. We see this as the beginning of a research partnership that will combine our shared goals and expertise to make an impact on health in the developing world”.

The research, Consumer-focused Supply Chains: A Cross-Case Comparison of Medicine Appeal and Acceptance in India, Uganda and Nigeria, is to be presented on 29th June at the 22nd International Annual EurOMA Conference, which this year is being held in Neuchâtel, Switzerland (

29 June 2014

About the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI):

The Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI) was founded in 2002 with a transformational goal: help save the lives of millions of people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world by dramatically scaling up antiretroviral treatment. When CHAI was founded, many viewed this goal as unreasonable because health systems in poor countries were too weak and prices of relevant drugs and diagnostic tests were too high. CHAI played a leadership role, working alongside governments and other partners, to lower the costs of treatment and help build the in-country systems necessary to provide lifesaving treatment to millions of people. Since then, CHAI has pursued several similarly ambitious goals, from scaling up paediatric AIDS treatment in order to achieve equity with adults in a timeframe few thought possible, to rapidly accelerating the rollout of new vaccines. CHAI has achieved many of its most important successes when seeking to fundamentally change the way the world approaches an issue and pushing the boundaries of what is considered feasible in global health. For more information on the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI), please visit or contact

About WMG

WMG was founded by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing. From its inception WMG’s mission has been to improve the competitiveness of organisations through the application of value-adding innovation, new technologies and skills deployment, bringing academic rigour to industrial and organisational practice. The Group has grown into an international role model for how universities and business can successfully work together. Our many multi-partner projects have seen us working across a wide range of sectors and our field of expertise now encompasses areas as diverse as construction, finance, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, energy and utilities, and telecommunications.

PR136 29 June 2015


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