Pursuing Science in Battlefield: Yemeni Researcher
葉門博士不畏戰亂動盪,一心奉獻科學為社會貢獻
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        The worst humanitarian crisis in decades is happening right now in Yemen; however, the conflict in Yemen didn’t stop Fathiah Zakham from pursuing science.

        Fathiah Zakham, an assistant researcher at the Hodeidah University, Hodeidah, Yemen, is one of the five winners of 2017 Gro Brundtland Award. At her arrival in Taiwan, she unveils a gentle complexion with a lovely smile saying, “It takes me almost 7 days to travel from Hodeidah to Taipei because the situation in Yemen is so difficult.”

        Winning the Gro Brundtland Award means a lot to Zakham. She says, “I am a female Yemeni researcher coming from a country suffering from war and humanitarian crisis and this award will provide me a hope for better achievement and advancement of science and make me more motivated.”

        Growing up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and then Hodeida, Yemen, Zakham has great passion to discover the secret of life and an interest in genomics.

        She holds a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular biology within the UFR (Immunology-Biochemistry), faculty of science in the Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. Now she works at the laboratory of microbiology at the School of Medicine and Health Science in Hodeidah University.

        “I am working on the field of the transmissible diseases and I try to diffuse the elementary notions of hygiene and infectious disease prevention in order to protect public health,” she says.

        Zakham’s main topic of research is the direct diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), the causal agent of tuberculosis and the detection of Multidrug resistant tuberculosis strains. She is also working on other bacterial resistance, especially in Gram negative bacteria.

        “For my postdoctoral studies, I would like to design, characterize and investigate novel biodegradable polymer particles for the delivery of vaccine antigens and to measure the protective efficacy and the immunological response induced by those vaccines,” she adds.

        Attending the Gro Brundtland Week 2017 in Taiwan, Zakham is looking forward to creating new collaborations with other scientists from around the world. Her goal is to build and create a network for fighting TB and other infectious diseases.

        “Moreover, I hope to transfer the new knowledge that I learnt to my students and colleagues for achieving this point I am joining different events to be always updated,” she says.

        Family has played an important role in Zakham’s career, particularly when she is in need of emotional and financial support.

        "My biggest goal is to help my daughter to realize her dreams and become independent," Zakham says.

        Currently, female scientists are suffering in Yemen and there is a huge gender disparity in education and scientific training, she says.

        In Yemen and after war, the humanitarian impact of the conflict has been catastrophic, according to Zakham. “We have different challenges public health threats. The infrastructure damage has contributed to the raise of several communicable diseases outbreaks.”

        Fighting against malnutrition in Yemen is an absolute challenge, she adds.

        Watch the full speech by Pyllis Awor here.

        女性柔弱的外表下,蘊涵著堅忍,不向命運低頭的韌性!女科學家Fathiah Zakham博士,來自戰亂動盪、基礎設施大肆毀壞、公共衛生受到嚴厲挑戰的國家--葉門,雖然處在嚴苛環境,但她並未放棄醫療衛生等科學研究,相反的更加用心,希望藉由科學的力量滅絕傳染病,減輕鋒火中民眾生存的壓力。

        Fathiah Zakham博士,珍惜Gro Brundtland Award的榮譽、鼓勵與機會;她說,得獎帶給她持續前進的動力,獎項讓她來到台灣與世界各地其他的科學家建立連結,帶來國際合作的可能,這個獎對她來說意義重大。

        為了來台灣參加2017女性永續發展科學週,她克服了外人難以想像的交通難題。葉門長年戰爭,交通柔腸寸斷、航班不定,她訂了兩次才終於確定機位,而且為能順利成行,她刻意挑選遠赴二線城市搭機,先火車再飛機,先飛杜拜、再轉機來台,行程一波數折,這趟行程花她將近7天的時間,但是值得的。

        Fathiah Zakham博士,專業領域為微生物學暨分子生物學,現為葉門Hodeidah University助理教授。現階段的她,致力於傳染病防治相關研究,包括肺結核、細菌耐藥性、出血性病毒等。

        Fathiah Zakham博士認為,科學是人類的力量,人類若想在地球永續生存,應該好好發展科學,藉由科學改善困境與壓力;以處於戰亂的葉門來說,基礎設施嚴重毀壞,不利環境衛生,容易爆發傳染病,戰爭也造成民生物資缺乏、人民營養不良等問題,都是公共衛生的大挑戰。她希望透過科學打擊傳染病,降低公眾健康的威脅,還要將科學研究的新知識,傳遞給年輕一輩。

        葉門是保守的國家,女性在很多方面都受到限制,社會對於女性期望不高,女性在教育、科學人才培育上的資源都遠低於男性;Fathiah Zakham博士是葉門少有的女性高知識份子,她感謝家人給予無盡的支持,才有今天的自己。

        她期許更多女性可以接受良好教育,為國家社會帶來貢獻,有一個女兒的她,人生另一個期盼,就是希望女兒也能受到良好的教育,能夠獨立去追尋夢想。她也鼓勵所有想投入科學職涯的年輕人,保持動力,努力工作,永不放棄。她說,如果我們有什麼目標,認真去做,一切都有可能力。