Bangladesh is moving toward a future of fewer infectious diseases and two names are undoubtedly to be credited for this achievement are Dr. Samir Kumar Saha and Dr. Senjuti Saha. Recently, Bill Gates has praised them and denoted them as the Dynamic Duo of Bangladesh in his personal blog GatesNotes. The write up is titled, ‘Like Father, Like Daughter: Bangladesh’s dynamic duo battle global health inequity’. He also included the duo in ‘Bill Gates's Heroes in the Field’ category. Samir Kumar Saha is a Microbiologist who did his post-graduation from University of Dhaka in 1983 and PhD from Institute of Medical Sciences of Banaras Hindu University in 1989. His daughter Senjuti Saha completed her PhD in Molecular Biology at Toronto University. This father-daughter duo is working tirelessly to reduce the child mortality rate in Bangladesh and other countries. Samir K Saha is currently working as the head of Microbiology department of Dhaka Shishu Hospital and is the Executive Director of Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF). He introduced the vaccine of meningitis and pneumonia by providing the data and evidences of disease outbreak to convince public health policymakers to support the rollout of both vaccines. Thus he played the key role in introducing these two vaccines in low-income countries like Bangladesh which were only available in US and other rich countries previously. Bill Gates wrote, “Thanks to the work of the CHRF, along with strong support for childhood immunization and health care by the government, Bangladesh continues to push down its under-5 mortality rate and improve overall healthcare delivery. Vaccine coverage in Bangladesh, a country of 170 million people, has now reached 98 percent”. Samir K Saha is the first scientist from developing countries and all over from Asia to get the most prestigious award for microbiologists given by American Society of Microbiology in 2017. The winners are called laureates. Senjuti Saha is working to develop precise and simpler methods for detecting infectious diseases which are the most prevalent among children causing increased death rate below the age of 5. The unerring detection of these diseases helps the selection of effective vaccines against those. Such discoveries are contributing in decreasing child mortality rate. Bill Gates in his blog he quoted, “The information that the Sahas are gathering from their research is critical for Bangladesh, which lacks many of the resources needed to diagnose and treat illnesses. The data CHRF gathers is helping to inform the government to aid policy decisions for the most effective ways to combat diseases”. Scientists like Samir Saha and Senjuti Saha are assets for our country and of course for the world of Microbiologists. With such research in the field of infectious diseases, we are getting stronger as a nation and getting closer toward a healthier future.
written by Dola Karmoker, Plant Biotechnology Lab, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka
image courtesy: official youtube video