World-renowned HIV scientist Gita Ramjee has died of COVID-19-related complications. RIP to one of South Africa’s great minds. Her work focused, particularly on women.
a South African scientist renowned for her work to expand women’s access to HIV treatment and prevention
South Africa mourns a great mind
Here in SA, we have the largest number of people living with HIV in the world. And Gita Ramjee was one of the brilliant minds fighting this fight. On Tuesday, she died in a hospital near Durban, BBC reports. Since then, tributes have been pouring in for this respected scientist.
‘She dedicated many years of her life to finding HIV prevention solutions for women,’ said her colleague and friend, Gavin Churchyard.
Prof. Gita Ramjee was a chief scientific officer at the Aurum Institute. As an HIV researcher, her work was critical for many South Africans.
‘Gita was a vibrant person, a real fighter. If she sets her mind on something, nobody better stand in her way,’ Churchyard added. ‘That will be my lasting memory of her – how she fought with everything to advance access to healthcare for women in disadvantaged communities.’
Aurum is deeply saddened by the death of its Chief Scientific Officer Prof Gita Ramjee, world renowned for her tireless work to find HIV prevention solutions for women. Group CEO Gavin Churchyard, described her as; “a bold & compassionate leader in the response to HIV.” pic.twitter.com/9DvcjfInlh
— The Aurum Institute (@Auruminstitute) March 31, 2020
‘In her, we have indeed lost a champion in the fight against the HIV epidemic, ironically at the hands of this global pandemic,’ said Deputy President David Mabuza.
‘In her honour, we should heed the call to flatten the curve by strengthening our responses to this global pandemic as well as continue the fight to achieve zero new HIV infections.’
Some of her accomplishments
Respected across her field, Professor Gita Ramjee was a vaccine scientist and an internationally recognised virologist. At 64, she had a tremendous career devoted to helping vulnerable South African women.
She held an honorary professorship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Washington and UCT. Also, she received the Outstanding Female Scientist Award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships in 2018.
This is what she had to say about the award:
‘I was absolutely thrilled by this award, as it recognises decades of my commitment to clinical research activities in HIV prevention. What makes it more rewarding is that I now stand among the female giants.’
Gutted. A kind person, a stellar vaccine scientist, a “towering HIV prevention research leader,” someone who dedicated her life to ending the HIV pandemic, has died of Covid-19. Prof. Gita Ramjee was Chief Specialist Scientist + Director of the South African Medical Research… pic.twitter.com/SNiACexmSq
— Dr. Seema Yasmin (@DoctorYasmin) March 31, 2020
Her advice for younger women
Lastly, here’s a word of advice for younger women in science, from Prof Gita Ramjee: ‘Love of the job, passion, drive and tenacity are critical traits to have for scientific excellence.’
Of course, her work will live on. And now is the time to follow her example. Her colleague Churchyard urges us not to give up, as Gita Ramjee would want us to carry on fighting:
‘As an unrelenting fighter, unrelenting in her fight against HIV, against tuberculosis and now Covid-19. The last thing she would want us to do is to give up. We won’t give up, we must keep fighting and working to find solutions.’
We join the world in celebrating the life, the #leadership, the #courage and the #bravery of one of our own today. Gita Ramjee. #scientist #researcher #advocate #women . Thoughts are with her loved ones and her colleagues @Auruminstitute #Covid_19 pic.twitter.com/0Q7CVJhbql
— TheVARG (@vaccineadvocacy) March 31, 2020
Read more Politics