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BD scientist Senjuti to advise WHO on polio transition

| Updated: July 13, 2020 11:40:54

BD scientist Senjuti to advise WHO on polio transition

Bangladeshi microbiologist Dr Senjuti Saha, who led research on genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus, has become a member of the Independent Monitoring Board of Global Polio Eradication Initiative to advise World Health Organization on polio transition planning.

The young scientist of Child Health Research Foundation in a post to Facebook on Friday said she felt honoured over the appointment, reports bdnews24.com.

“Advising the WHO at Director-General level on progress on the polio transition process will not be an easy job, but this is the first time a Bangladeshi has been appointed to this position and I will do my best to bring our and other LMIC's perspectives to the table,” she added.

Senjuti and her father Dr Samir Saha, who is also a microbiologist, earned plaudits when they announced genome sequencing of the new virus, SARS-CoV-2, in May.

The CHRF project was assisted by the Directorate General of Health Services, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates shared a video on Facebook in January describing how “global health heroes” Samir and Senjuti have helped Bangladesh become “a model for other countries” for how to respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

CHRF said in a statement that Senjuti’s work in the board is primarily concerned with how countries around the world will sustain the public health infrastructure- particularly essential immunisation, wider communicable disease surveillance, emergency response-once polio money which has been used for years or decades to pay for non-polio activity is withdrawn.

The WHO is implementing a plan for polio transition approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2018.

This board is chaired by Sir Liam Donaldson, former chief medical officer of England, and professor of Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The two other board members appointed this year are Prof Sheila Leatherman of the US and Dr Lola Dare of Nigeria.

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