Who is Dilip Mahalanabis, the ORS pioneer to be awarded Padma Vibhushan?
Dilip Mahalanabis, who pioneered the use of ORS, will be awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award, posthumously in the field of Medicine (Pediatrics).
On Republic Day eve, the Indian government said that Mahalanabis' efforts led to the widespread use of ORS (oral rehydration system) which is "estimated to have saved over five crore lives globally."
Dilip Mahalanabis was born in 1934 in Kishoreganj, present-day Bangladesh. He graduated from Calcutta Medical College as a paediatrician in 1958, before joining the medical college as an intern.
The paediatrician started working on oral rehydration therapy in 1966. He led the research team at Johns Hopkins University International Centre for Medical Research in the US that developed the life-saving ORS solution. The other two members of Mahalanabis' team were Devid R Nalin and Richard A Cash.
From 1975 to 1979, Mahalanabis worked in cholera control for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Afghanistan, Egypt and Yemen. In 1983, Mahalanabis was made a member of the WHO’s Diarrhoeal Diseases Control Programme.
Mahalanabis died in October last year, at the age of 87. He was suffering from lung infection and other age-related ailments.
The government of India said that Mahalanabis "demonstrated the effectiveness of ORS while serving in Refugee camps during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, having returned from USA to serve."
What is ORS?
ORS or oral rehydration system is a simple, inexpensive yet effective ingenious solution, thanks to which the world has seen 93 per cent reduction in deaths caused by diarrhoea, cholera and dehydration, especially in infants and children. ORS is "acknowledges as most important medical discovery of the 20th century.