A three-finger pinch of salt, a fistful of gur – a sort of unrefined sugar or molasses – in half a litre of water; this simple concoction revolutionized the treatment of diarrhoea in Bangladeshi children in the 1980s.
Oral rehydration therapy (ORT), in its various guises, has since become a major tool in the armoury against the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. It has been described as potentially the most important medical advance of the 20th century .
That Bangladesh successfully introduced home-based ORT on such a large scale is in no small part down to research carried out by a modest, softly-spoken researcher called Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury. Nudged to acknowledge his achievements he says: “I am very proud that Bangladesh has the highest ORT use in the world. The research contribution in that is enormous”.
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