Home About us Achievements


Our work has had a major impact on the health of people in Bangladesh – and in other countries of the global South.

Throughout our history, we have developed innovative products and generated rigorous evidence that has influenced health policy and practice in Bangladesh and globally.

Our major achievements

Oral Rehydration Solution

In the 1960s, icddr,b researchers developed oral rehydration solution (ORS) to treat the symptoms of diarrhoeal disease and carried out landmark studies demonstrating its life-saving potential. ORS is estimated to have saved tens of millions of lives worldwide.

Zinc Treatment for Diarrhoea

In the 1990s, researchers at icddr,b showed that zinc treatment shortened the duration of diarrhoea and prevented future cases – key evidence underpinning the WHO’s decision to recommend zinc use alongside ORS. Our scientists also organised an innovative cross-media awareness-raising campaign – the Scale Up of Zinc for Young Children (SUZY) initiative – which has led to high levels of zinc usage in Bangladesh.

Tetunus Toxoid Vaccine for Mothers

Data from the Matlab health surveillance site revealed that newborns of mothers who received a tetanus toxoid vaccine before pregnancy were highly protected from neonatal tetanus. This has led to global adoption of tetanus toxoid vaccine for women of childbearing age.

Guidelines for Treating Severe Malnutrition

icddr,b developed an innovative method for managing severe acute malnutrition in children, which reduced death rates by nearly half. Results were published in the Lancet, and the standardised protocol is now endorsed by the WHO throughout the region.

Testing Vaccines

icddr,b has rigorously tested the efficacy of many new vaccines for diseases that affect the poor – including rotavirus vaccines, the Hib vaccine, a maternal pneumonia vaccine for protecting infants, and an affordable oral cholera vaccine. Results have helped to shape Bangladesh’s Extended Programme on Immunisation and provided evidence to support vaccine use in other resource-poor settings.

Family Planning Solutions

The innovative use of female community health workers at Matlab in the 1970s greatly increased contraceptive use and reduced fertility. The work was highly influential nationally, leading to a national programme of family welfare assistants providing family planning support, and internationally.

Domestic Violence Legislation

icddr,b has maintained a long-running programme of research on violence against women. Our research and advocacy activities have had majorimpact, raising awareness of domestic violence, leading to changes in Bangladesh law and introduction of interventions to reduce violence against women.

Continuing innovation

We are continuing to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to the key health challenges facing Bangladesh and the global South.

Mat for Measuring Maternal Blood Loss

icddr,b scientists have developed and evaluated an absorbent birth mat that, when fully saturated, indicates that mothers need specialist medical care. Along with misoprostol to limit bleeding and umbilical cord cleaning tools, the mat has been incorporated into an innovative safe delivery kit now in widespread use. A biodegradable version of the mat has also been developed.

Ultra Low-cost CPAP Device for severe pneumonia

icddr,b researchers have developed an ultra-low-cost ‘bubble CPAP’ device to deliver oxygen to young children with severe pneumonia. A clinical trial at icddr,b Dhaka Hospital suggested that treatment with bubble CPAP oxygen therapy had significant reduction in deaths and treatment failure compared to current standard WHO-recommended therapy. The device is made from simple, locally available materials, and has the potential to bring bubble CPAP therapy to a much wider range of facilities in resource-poor settings. The Dhaka Hospital has standardised implementation of this therapy since completion of the trial.

Supplementary and therapeutic foodstuffs to prevent and treat malnutrition

icddr,b researchers have developed novel ready-to-use supplementary and therapeutic foodstuffs, made from locally available ingredients such as rice, lentils and chickpeas. The foodstuffs have been well received by children and shownto promote weight gain, and are now being tested in field trials.