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 is 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.
"Cholera treatment is impressive in Bangladesh. The prerequisite for lowering child mortality rate is ensuring the overall well-being of children's health. However, ensuring supply of uncontaminated water is most important to achieve that," she observed.
She disclosed her plans when asked how she would like to spend the prize money – a whopping 100,000 euros.
"I established a research institute named 'ideSHi' with the 5,00,000-euro prize money I received from the 'Christophe Merieux Prize' in 2012. Now, I want to invest the latest prize money to expand ideSHi operations so that it sustains even when I am not there," said Dr Qadri.
Each of the five L'Oreal-Unesco for Women in Science Awards 2020 laureates will receive 100,000 euros at a ceremony at the Unesco headquarters in Paris on March 12.