MCH, Home of the original Oral Rehydration Solution


Drinking ORS“I exercise so that I can enjoy recovery drink!” one exercise leader exclaims. You may have said the same thing. Around the world, athletes drink specialty liquids to rehydrate and to replenish their body’s electrolytes. The drinks contain sugar and salt and are primarily hypertonic, meaning they supply more than the body’s normal levels.

Interestingly, the original man-made recovery drink was developed at Memorial Christian Hospital.
Not long after MCH opened in 1966, a cholera epidemic swept through our area. The American-financed Cholera Research Lab in Dhaka was contacted. Researchers there had been working on developing a simple therapy for cholera-induced diarrhea. They had come to Bangladesh because most Bangladeshis had no access to treatment. Forty doctors, nurses, and technicians (Bengali and American) came down to MCH to help us save the victims.

Sharing ORSAt that time cholera-victims assumed that they would die, so they didn't want to come to MCH. Weak and hopeless, they simply wanted to die at home. MCH scoured the community with announcements. Jeeps and rovers and rickshaws drove through communities with blaring loudspeakers, and transportation was provided. A few brave souls initially came to our "cholera hospital.” A large tent was set up with rows of army cots which had holes in them for the diarrhea to run through to the bucket below. IV's were hooked up. Those were desperate days.

The research-doctors’ plan was to replace the fluids that were lost and to reestablish the right electrolyte balance, plus an antibiotic to kill the germ. The CRH team used our hospital lab to experiment. They found that an isotonic drink similar to the body’s normal levels could be mixed and drunk: 2 T sugar, ½ t. salt, in 1 liter boiled water worked wonders- and without IV! This Oral Rehydration Solution was the ideal balance of glucose and sodium. They were successful!

When it became apparent that the patients weren't dying, MCH was inundated with patients. Of the multitude of cholera patients, only two died. The team stayed at MCH until the cholera crisis was over.

This served as publicity for our hospital. We have never lacked for patients.

“Oral Rehydration Solution” is still marketed and used worldwide. It has saved millions of lives. According to UNICEF’s statistics (The State of the Worlds’ Children 2008: Child Survival), ORS annually saves over a million children under the age of 5.

Of course, water is the best drink for rehydrating, and coconut water is God’s natural electrolyte-replenishment. Working hard or just being outside in a hot climate causes electrolytes to be lost. Bangladeshis have found ORS to be an excellent recovery drink.

Once again, AOB is spreading the news: Our media production team regularly shows a health-teaching video about home-treatment for diarrhea: The film explains that where ORS packets are not available, the mix can be prepared at home. This year the hospital community and media-production banded together to produce a sequel DVD, encouraging people to enjoy ORS as a recovery drink for all. It’s a real lifesaver.