Friday, May 27, 2005

The Centre for Health and Population Research, Dhaka

Last week I had the privilege of visiting the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). It is also known as the Centre for Health and Population Research and is commonly known as the the Cholera Hospital here in Dhaka. The Executive Director of the hospital is Dr David Sack who is also one of the leaders of the Cantemus choir. David's wife Jean, also with the choir and who is a volunteer staff member at the hospital showed me around.

The hospital was first established in 1962. Its main aim was to carry out research into the causes and cures for diseases like cholera. Cholera epidemics around the world have claimed millions of lives, and these epidemics happen regularly in Bangladesh, so it has plenty of raw material for research. Today the centre has expanded to a staff of around 2,000 people and have broadened their spheres of activity to include training, HIV/Aids and Public Health. They continue to carry out world leading research into infectious diseases like cholera and other causes of diarrhoea and have some of the best diagnostic and testing facilities in the region. You can read more about what they do at

They also deal with any cholera outbreaks that occur. As an example, in recent weeks thay have been admitting and treating up to 600 patients a day (yes that's right, 600 a day). 15,976 patients were treated during April 2005 according to a statistics board I saw at the hospital. Overall the centre treats around 110,000 patients a year. A peak year was 1998 when over 157,000 patients were treated. The centre has the diagnosis and treatment of diarrhoea down to a fine art. They developed what is called Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) that quickly gets the patients back to health and which is credited with saving over 3 million lives a year around the world. The ORT formula that the Centre has developed is very cheap and very effective. There are around 7 possible causes for diarrhoea and the hospital is able to identify the cause and treat accordingly.

To give an example of how effective the hospital is, on the 24th May 2005 they had 282 admissions of patients with acute diarrhoea. Of these 185 were treated and discharged in less than 12 hours, and 97 patients stayed longer than 12 hours. The majority of the patients are young children. Diarrhoeal disease is mainly transmitted by water. During bad flood years in Bangladesh the outbreak of diarrhoeal disease increases. As well as treating the patients the hospital also provides the caregivers of the patients training and advice on hygiene, feeding and care so that the message goes out about how to avoid becoming infected and how best to treat the disease if it strikes. Diarrhoea causes severe dehydration of the body which can lead very quickly to heart failure. The right application of rehydration therapy works miracles and saves many lives.

Treatment is free. Apart from a 60 Taka registration fee (about NZ$1.30) nothing is charged. The hospital is supported by donations by generous benefactors from around the world. The centre provides training for medical and research staff. 95% of the staff are locals with only 5% staffed by people from abroad.

Here are some photos that I took at the centre.

The ICDDR Entrance. During the epidemic in April the drive was filled with marquees set up to receive the patients.

Patient receiving area

General ward area

Doctor (seated) checking patients

Mother giving ORT through a feeding tube. Note the baby's hand is wrapped to stop it pulling out the tube.

Every bit of available space is utilised

One of the testing labs

Sample testing lab

Workers (and onlooker) at the sample testing lab

Executive Director, Dr David Sack and his wife Jean. Also members of the world famous (in Dhaka) Cantemus choir.


Blogger Samia said...

International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) is a Renowned hospital. It's activities is a great purpose. Thanks for sharing with us.
Read more at: Population of Bangladesh

7:44 AM


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