The role of ICDDR, B in research, training and extension of oral rehydration therapy.
No effective prevention has yet been developed for diarrhea, the most important cause of death and disability in developing countries. Two steps may alleviate the suffering attributed to diarrhea. Through research, the 1st step, effective and inexpensive measures have been developed for application. One is oral rehydration therapy (ORT), a highly effective, inexpensive and technologically simple measure which can abolish death and most of the disability caused by watery diarrhea. The 2nd step is training people to use ORT. ICDDR, B has an important role to play in this process. An effective oral rehydration solution contains an appropriate concentration of salts, water and carrier substances which transport the salts and water into the body. Glucose has been the standard carrier sustance, but certain amino acids are also effective. As both glucose and amino acids are found in many food items, an active research program is needed to test the relative efficacy of food sources which contain glucose and amino acids and which when mixed with salts and water will provide an effective oral rehydration solution. Sucrose-based solutions have also been used to treat watery diarrhea. Fundamental to the ORT is the ability to measure correctly a certain volume of water and to mix a given amount of solutes with the measured amount of water. This is the objective of training and education. By encouraging and assisting research and development of any group with ideas of merit, the ICDDR, B hopes to serve as a catalyst in the rapid spread of effective ORT in the afflicted parts of the world.