UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits icddr,b

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the icddr,b Dhaka Hospital on Monday, 14 November as part of a three-day tour of Bangladesh. During his hour-long stay at icddr,b, the Secretary General had an opportunity to meet with key staff, talk to patients, and also get a better understanding of the research and low-cost innovations done by icddr,b doctors and scientists which are saving lives every day.

The Secretary-General was shown around Dhaka Hospital by Dr Alejandro Cravioto, the Executive Director of icddr,b. During the tour, Dr Mark Pietroni, Medical Director of Dhaka Hospital, led an explanation of how Oral Rehydration Therapy works, a technique devised by icddr,b scientists for the treatment of diarrhoea and cholera, and which has saved millions of lives globally.  During this time, the Secretary-General also had a chance to talk to patients and their attendants at the Hospital’s Short-Stay Ward and share some of their experiences.

Later on, the Secretary-General, accompanied by his wife, visited the Centre for Food and Nutrition Security, where Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, the Director of the Centre, explained how patients with symptoms of severe acute malnutrition, usually infants, are treated. Dr Tahmeed Ahmed demonstrated how ready-to-use-therapeutic foods made from local ingredients, a formulation being developed by icddr,b scientists, could help children suffering from acute malnutrition. The Secretary-General was impressed by the fact that the formula can be replicated in other parts of the world and told Dr Ahmed that the UN would like to work with icddr,b on how such low-cost technology could be used globally to fight malnutrition.

The Secretary-General also met with other key icddr,b personnel and got to know more about the life-changing technologies that are making an impact in Bangladesh. Dr Laura Reichenbach, Director of Reproductive Health, explained how the ‘delivery-mat’ developed by icddr,b scientist Dr Md Abdul Quaiyum, can indicate whether a mother is hemorrhaging during a home delivery, and if she should be immediately referred to a hospital or health complex. Dr Steven Luby, Director for the Centre for Communicable Diseases, demonstrated the use of chlorine dispensers being installed free of charge to communities who find it hard to access clean water. Family members, with the turn of a knob of the dispenser, can release a pre-measured dose of chlorine into their water supply to kill harmful bacteria. Dr Firdausi Qadri, Director the Centre for Vaccine Sciences, spoke about the vaccine feasibility study being undertaken in Dhaka’s cholera-prone Mirpur area, which, in conjunction with other programmes, is looking to drastically reduce the number of cholera patients in the capital.

The Secretary-General was not only impressed by the volume of research work being done by icddr,b scientists and doctors in the public health realm, but was struck by how easily the research gets translated to low-cost solutions to serve people in need in not only Bangladesh, but other parts of the world.

On Tuesday evening, the Secretary-General will also attend a dinner hosted by icddr,b at Hotel Sonargaon. The event will serve as a platform for the leaders from private sector, NGOs, and civil society to explore connections to learn more about the Secretary-General’s ‘Every Woman Every Child,’ initiative, which aims to save the lives of sixteen million women and children by 2015. The dinner will also emphasise existing partnerships and innovative local solutions on addressing women’s and children’s health challenges in Bangladesh.

The Secretary-General’s visit to campus was made possible due to staunch advocacy by Communications Unit, icddr,b, which has a strong relationship with the UN Foundation. The Communications team has been hard at work this year raising icddr,b’s international profile, and the Secretary-General’s visit to the campus is in recognition of icddr,b’s excellence attained in health research, not only in Bangladesh, but throughout the world.

For further information, please contact

Graham Judd
Head of Communications