THE GENEVA HEALTH FILES INTERVIEW
By Divya Venkatesh
“The idea of pathogen sharing is based on power dynamics”
During an outbreak, accessing pathogen samples and sequencing data easily are critical for designing effective public health responses and developing medical products. The norms that govern the sharing of pathogens in “peace” times, will have consequences on how samples and information are shared and compensated for, during outbreaks. Despite the growing chorus for sharing pathogens, this fundamental requirement that has not been discussed enough.
We spoke with Senjuti Saha, a well-known Bangladeshi scientist who works at the intersection of Clinical Microbiology and Public Health. Saha works at the Child Health Research Foundation (CHRF) in Dhaka. She is also a board member of the Polio Transition Independent Monitoring Board (TIMB) of the World Health Organization (WHO). She leads the genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 effort in Bangladesh.
In this wide-ranging interview, Saha discusses with rare candour, the challenges, frustrations, the excitement, and determination that researchers like her, face in their quest to contribute to science and shape global health practice in significant ways.
As calls for a pandemic treaty continue to gain traction, driven by a need to make it binding for countries to share pathogens, she raises a fundamental question: “Do we really need to share pathogens?”
Read on to know more on why capacity building in science should go hand in hand with capacity building in policy-making.
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