'We've lost a champion in the fight against HIV': David Mabuza on death of Gita Ramjee from Covid-19

01 April 2020 - 13:07 By Qaanitah Hunter
Internationally acclaimed HIV scientist and campaigner of women's rights Prof Gita Ramjee died in a Durban hospital on Tuesday.
Internationally acclaimed HIV scientist and campaigner of women's rights Prof Gita Ramjee died in a Durban hospital on Tuesday.
Image: Supplied

Deputy President David Mabuza has described the death of world-renowned HIV scientist Prof Gita Ramjee due to Covid-19 complications as a “huge blow to the entirety of the health care sector and the global fight against HIV/Aids”.

Mabuza, who heads the SA National Aids Council, issued a statement on Wednesday after the news that Ramjee had died in a Durban hospital on Tuesday.

“In her, we have indeed lost a champion in the fight against the HIV epidemic, ironically at the hands of this global pandemic. 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,” he said.

Ramjee was the chief specialist scientist and director of the SA Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC's) HIV Prevention Research Unit.

Mabuza’s statement came as many of her peers in the medical fraternity expressed their sadness.

SAMRC head Prof Glenda Gray described Ramjee’s death as tragic.

On Tuesday, health minister Zweli Mkhize said there were 1,353 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and five deaths as a result of the virus.

“Prof Ramjee was renowned for her work on finding HIV prevention methods that were conducive to the lifestyles, circumstances and perceived risk factors that SA women face as well as in the attempts to find an effective HIV vaccine,” the deputy president’s office said.

She had received many international accolades including a lifetime achievement award for HIV prevention and was honoured with the Outstanding Female Scientist Award by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships for her life’s work focused on finding new HIV prevention methods.

“We would like to convey our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Prof Ramjee as well as to the medical research community. May her soul rest in peace,” Mabuza said.


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