While Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) as a simple, effective remedy for dehydration is known around the world, the physician who pioneered the treatment is less famous. This physician, Dr Dilip Mahalanabis, passed away recently at a Kolkata hospital.

 

About Dr Mahalanabis

  • Dr Mahalanabis was working in overflowing refugee camps during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war when he came up with ORS, which The Lancet called “the most important medical discovery of the 20th century.’’
  • From 1975 to 1979, Dr Mahalanabis worked in cholera control for WHO in Afghanistan, Egypt and Yemen. During the 1980s, he worked as a WHO consultant on research on the management of bacterial diseases.
  • In 2002, Dr Dilip Mahalanabis along with Dr Nathaniel F Pierce was awarded the Pollin Prize by Columbia University (considered the equivalent of Nobel in paediatrics).
  • From his research, Dr Mahalanabis knew that a solution of sugar and salt, which would increase water absorption by the body, could save lives. He and his team then prepared solutions of salt and glucose in water and began storing them in large drums, from where patients or their relatives could help themselves.