Dr. Shahanaz Chowdhury MBBS (SSMC, DU), MPH (NIPSOM, DU), MBGPH, PhD,
Associate Professor & Head, Dept. of Community Medicine, Faculty of Public
Health, Bangladesh University of Health Sciences (BUHS)
When did you first come to Thailand?
I first visited Bangkok and Pattaya in 2009.
What did you like the most since you came here?
All aspects of Thai people’s lives have changed. They are very modern and communicative. I feel Bangkok is a very safe city to explore and amazingly cheap. I really enjoy the shopping.
Can you tell us about your family?
I got married in 1997 and blessed with one son. My husband is an automotive sales executive. My son is in standard nine now and going to appear at his ‘O’ level exam in 2022. I also have a brother who runs his own business in the USA.
Tell us about you university work?
I am an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Public Health at Bangladesh University of Health Sciences (BUHS). I teach the Bachelor and Masters students in Public Health. I am also the member secretary of Ethical Review Committee.
You are one of the world’s leading Bioethics experts. What can you tell us about Covid-19?
Bioethics makes us take decision more wisely and teaches us to value each component of life. It helps us to redefine ourselves without any judgement. It helps us to grow into better humans and care for each other. As a Bioethics expert, I can say that Covid-19 has brought to our senses. Our ultra-efficient health system was created only for just in time. We are not prepared to handle such challenges. Covid-19 is the first start as to what we are going to see in the near future due to climate change. We need to prepare ourselves to become more resilient and absorb the challenges. We need to provide an ethical environment. We expect that there are institutions to protect us and provide us adequate resources we need for safe and quality healthcare delivery. This is a great expectation which is very much ethical and moral that we want from our institutions. We have every right to voice our concern when we are not protected. We must have information of what’s happening and for how long and also a guideline on what to do. The science itself is not enough in this current pandemic. We need to integrate ethics into the current pandemic. For example, social isolation is rated good from a scientific view. It helps to reduce the rate of infection, but there are particular social groups like the old and vulnerable who will be particularly disadvantaged by social isolation. So we owe them social support from a moral point of view. We need qualified people to assess the need to do ethics. At the end of the day consideration of ethical matters must be done by the public in a transparent fashion. In this pandemic we are going face very difficult choices. Some have to make more difficult choices than others. These are moral decisions. We need to know which one is the most moral one then how to address and resolve them.
What do you do for fun?
I love to sing. I have a small garden at the back of my house where I grow plants. It gives me immense pleasure to nurture them and to see how they grow each day.
What are your favourite places to visit in Thailand?
My favourite place to visit is Pattaya. I just love to stroll on the beach road. The smell of the sea is absolutely amazing.
You have frequently travelled all over the world. What wisdom can you share from your travels?
I felt the urge to travel since childhood. But my dream to travel came alive when I got married. My hubby is also fond of travelling. We have gone to many places around the world. We have so many treasured memories. For me, travelling is not escaping life but rather finding and enjoying all the adventurous things. Knowing and understanding the different culture of different countries has helped me to feel my best self. I believe as Oscar Wilde said: “Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets.”
What do you see the future is for yourself?
I am very positive person. I love to work within challenging environment. I want to build an institution for the elderly and give them palliative care when needed.