Microsoft Corporation’s co-founder Bill Gates applauded Bangladeshi microbiologists Samir Kumar Saha and his daughter Senjuti Saha for their research to reduce child mortality in Bangladesh and other countries.
“Together, the father–daughter team is a dynamic duo of global health. They are working to close the gap in healthcare delivery between low-income countries, where child mortality is high, and wealthier countries, by using data, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and vaccines to battle infectious diseases,” Bill Gates wrote in his personal blog ‘Gatesnote.com’ on 14 January.
Bill Gates, also co-chair of Bill & Mellinda Gates Foundation, wrote the blog titled ‘Like Father, Like Daughter: Bangladesh’s dynamic duo battle global health inequity’ and included the duo in ‘Bill Gates's Heroes in the Field’ category.
Prothom Alo supplement Chhutir Dine, on 25 February 2017, published an article on Samir Kumar Saha after he was nominated for the prestigious award from American Society of Microbiology in 2017 for his outstanding research in Clinical Microbiology.
He was the first scientist from a developing country to get the award.
“This is the biggest award of the world for microbiologists. The winners are called ‘laureate’,” Samir told Prothom Alo then.
Samir K Saha is currently working as head of microbiology department of Dhaka Shishu Hospital and executive director of Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF).
CHRF works to improve child health in Bangladesh and other countries facilitating appropriate policy decisions through research and advocacy.
Gates, in his blog, also praised the work of CHRF.
“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 per cent,” Bill Gates wrote.
Gates pointed out Samir’s role in introducing meningitis and pneumonia vaccines in Bangladesh saying “(Samir) played an instrumental role in helping Bangladesh introduce vaccines for meningitis and pneumonia, two major childhood killers. While those vaccines were available in the US and other rich countries, they were not in low-income countries like Bangladesh.”
“Working diligently to document the burden of these diseases, Samir provided the data and evidence to convince public health policymakers to support the rollout of both vaccines, which have already prevented thousands of deaths,” Gates added.
About Senjuti, Gates wrote, “Senjuti focuses on finding simpler ways to diagnose mysterious illnesses in poor countries that affect newborns and children. In 2017, when there was an unexplained spike in meningitis cases among children in Bangladesh, Senjuti was able to unravel the mystery by analyzing the genetic material of the children.”
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, Gates added.
Gates also shared his article in his Tweeter handle and wrote, ‘Thanks to the work of this father–daughter dynamic duo, Bangladesh is moving toward a future of fewer disease outbreaks and more children reaching their fifth birthday.’
Born to Chandrakanta Saha and Dulani Prova Saha, Samir completed his post graduation in microbiology from Dhaka University in 1983 and PhD from Institute of Medical Sciences of Banaras Hindu University in 1989.
Samir Saha’s wife Setarunnahar is a microbiologist too. She retired from Bangladesh Institute of Public Health. Daughter Senjuti completed PhD in molecular biology at Toronto University. Sudipta Saha also studied microbiology and global health at Toronto University.