‘New viruses like coronavirus will always emerge’
Hossen Sohel for DOT
The biggest challenge for infectious diseases is that there will always be new viruses like coronavirus emerging on the horizon, said Dr Firdausi Qadri who has won the prestigious L’Oreal-Unesco for Women in Science Awards 2020. She said the nature of viruses and bacteria vary in different countries and their mutation is not the same in every region. “The properties of bacteria change with time. As scientists, we have to be alert regardless of what lies in front of us,” Dr Qadri, who is an Emeritus scientist at the Infectious Diseases Division at the ICDDRB, said. She said the way antibiotics are used in Bangladesh is very dangerous because people here consume antibiotics without proper diagnosis which is creating antibiotic resistance in their bodies. “As a result, it is getting harder to treat the common bacteria-borne diseases.” Dr Qadri has decades of experience in research on typhoid and diarrhoea. She received the L’Oreal-Unesco for Women in Science Awards for the Asia-Pacific region for her contribution to understanding and preventing infectious diseases affecting children in developing countries, and promoting early diagnosis and vaccination with a global health impact.
When asked about medical research prospects in Bangladesh, Dr Qadri said there is no shortage of talented individuals in this field but there is a dire need for avant-garde institutions where researchers can be accommodated in order to achieve scientific breakthroughs.
“In Bangladesh, our laboratory capacity and clinical testing facilities are limited. This is a key reason why we lag in research.”
She said Bangladeshi women are very competent in the field of scientific research. “Women just need the proper social support to succeed in the work they are doing. The passion and talent they have is inherent.”
The scientist hopes for a time when no child will die of infectious diseases at birth.