NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

My personal and professional experiences with COVID-19 in Bangladesh | Dr Senjuti Saha

Dr Senjuti Saha writes a personal essay about contracting COVID-19 and how it has renewed her determination to fight against the deep inequities in global health

Dr Senjuti Saha
Dr Senjuti Saha, lead researcher on a RESPIRE study describes her personal and professional experience with COVID-19.

Dr Senjuti Saha, lead researcher on a RESPIRE pneumonia diagnosis study based at the Child Health Research Foundation in Bangladesh, has published a personal and moving account of her experience of contracting COVID-19. The essay is published in the Lancet Global Health and discusses both the personal and professional impacts the disease has had.

Living with COVID-19

Senjuti describes how she first felt symptoms of the disease during a Zoom presentation, and takes us through her worries about the health of her elderly parents, who she lives with. She illustrates her experience as being in a movie, where one false move could cause her parents serious harm.

Five weeks on and Senjuti is recovering, but still struggles with the guilt of balancing work priorities and her health. Senjuti has a team who run surveillance studies and provide patient services to the Bangladeshi population. Due to high competition in securing research funding in low- and middle-income countries, they find it difficult not to feel pressured to continue some research projects, which may not be high priority now.

Fight against inequities in health

Senjuti states that the world currently has eight approved COVID-19 vaccines. Inequity in access to vaccines caused by intellectual property rights and pharmaceutical profits mean that countries like Bangladesh, and other RESPIRE partner countries, won’t be able to effectively vaccinate their populations against future surges.

While high-income countries are delivering vaccines and lifting lockdown restrictions, many countries in Latin America and south Asia are having record numbers of COVID-19 cases. With a lack of access to enough doses, future waves of the virus in these countries are inevitable. This will further damage their economies and the progress made against poverty and disease over the last 30 years. Senjuti laments this perpetual cycle of inequity in global health.

But she is calling for countries like Bangladesh to ensure they are self-sufficient to provide vaccines to protect themselves. She argues all countries, especially low-income countries, need a new framework to have their own vaccine manufacturing capacity and that different vaccine designs are openly shared.

Senjuti is doing her part to help Bangladesh see its way through the pandemic while trying to recuperate after her experience of the disease. Everyone from the RESPIRE Collaboration wishes Senjuti a swift recovery from COVID-19.

Read Senjuti’s essay

Senjuti’s full essay is available from the Lancet Global Health

Coming to terms with COVID-19 personally and professionally in Bangladesh

Automated diagnosis system for pneumonia

Senjuti was lead researcher on a RESPIRE study that looked at constructing a computational framework to automatically and systematically interpret paediatric chest x-rays to diagnose pneumonia.

Project: Computational framework to interpret chest X-rays and diagnose pneumonia


Image credit: Dr Senjuti Saha