Gita Ramjee
Gita Ramjee
Facebook - Gita Ramjee

Indian-origin virologist Gita Ramjee, who spent most of her life working towards the prevention of HIV dies of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 on March 31.

Ramjee was a known face in the public health sector and her hard work and perserverene was something respected by everyone in the industry. In a tribute, UN AIDS wrote, "Gita was a very early casualty of the African epidemic because she was a global superstar. Her death is a stark warning. Millions of poor people living in southern and eastern Africa, many of them living with HIV, are now facing a devastating challenge. The weak health and social systems, the dependence on piece work, the crowded housing, the lack of water and electricity all make it a horrible prospect."

Ramjee was a world renowned, specializing in HIV prevention and treatment research with integrated care programmes among women and men in communities around the greater Durban area in South Africa.

Here are five things you should know about her

Exiled from her birthplace: Although she was born in Uganda, here family was exiled by the Ugandan tyrant Idi Amin in the 1970s. She completed her schooling in India and her higher education in England.

Rising up: After completing her PhD in kidney diseases of childhood, Ramjee joined the South African Medical Research Council as a scientist. She rose through the ranks and eventually headed the HIV Prevention Research unit.

A legend in her field: Ramjee received international recognition for her work in microbicide research. The research said that the substance, microbicide, could be used by women to prevent them from contracting the virus. Her research won her a Lifetime Achievement Award for HIV Prevention and was handed the Outstanding Female Scientist award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships for work in finding new HIV prevention methods.

"We are deeply saddened to inform you of the tragic passing of Prof Gita Ramjee in hospital today," said a statement issued by SAMRC President and CEO Glenda Gray.

Her funeral arrangements have not been announced. Attendance at funerals in South Africa is highly restricted and requires permits as the country is going through a 21-day nationwide lockdown announced last week by President Cyril RamaphosaFive South Africans have died from COVID-19 since Sunday, the third day of the lockdown. Over 13,50 cases have been reported in the country so farThe South African government on Tuesday announced that it will double to 10,000 the teams going door-to-door to test people for COVID-19, mainly in the overcrowded Black townships created during the apartheid eraOn Sunday evening, in a national broadcast, Ramaphosa cautioned thousands of South Africans who have not been taking the lockdown seriouslyThe death toll from the rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic has risen to 41,654 and over 850,580 people have been infected by the deadly virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in