Main image: Prof. Gita Ramjee lost her life to COVID-19 | Facebook
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is changing life as we know it. The virus has stoked fears about financial insecurity, mental health, contagion, and contamination. On 3 April, we had 1 462 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, with almost 48 000 tests having been conducted. Seven people have lost their lives in the fight against this pandemic in our country so far. Professor Gita Ramjee, an acclaimed scientist and medical researcher, was among those who lost their lives.
COVID-19 and an inspiring woman
Prof. Ramjee was an awe-inspiring figure in our country. She was known for her groundbreaking research on HIV prevention, having published over 200 scientific papers. She died in hospital from coronavirus-related complications on Tuesday, 31 March.
The BBC reported that she fell ill with COVID-19 after returning home mid-March from the UK. She was in the UK to present research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This was one of three tertiary institutes to have awarded Prof. Ramjee honorary professorship. She also held professorships at the University of Washington and the University of Cape Town.
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
Tributes from around the world have poured in over social media. All who knew her recognised her tenacity, passion, and dedication to the eradication of HIV and TB.
Deputy President David Mabuza said in a statement: “The passing of Prof. Ramjee comes as a huge blow to the entirety of the healthcare sector and the global fight against HIV/Aids. In her, we have indeed lost a champion in the fight against the HIV epidemic, ironically at the hands of this global pandemic.”
#Flattenthecurve in her honour
Moreover, the Deputy President continued to say that, “In her honour, we should heed the call to flatten the curve by strengthening our responses to this global pandemic…”
It was a privilege to mentor and work with Gita Ramjee over the past 26 years. Known for her unwavering tenacity she embarked on new challenges with boldness and enthusiasm. We are deeply saddened by her passing. Salim Abdool Karim @CAPRISAOfficial pic.twitter.com/4y7LiDrfH4
— CAPRISA (@CAPRISAOfficial) April 1, 2020
It is heartening to observe the positive effects of the nationwide 21 day lockdown. The most recent stats show that there is potential for us to move towards flattening the curve and curbing the spread of COVID-19. While the virus is still a relatively new phenomenon, as a country we can overcome it by staying home and minimising contact with others.
Medical professionals are trying their hardest to be as fast and effective as possible to fight this virus. Adhering to#21daysLockdownSA to make that easier, #ThatsSolidarity. #Covid19SA #SafeAtHome #flattenthecurve pic.twitter.com/Vjs2AtPGB1
— Solidarity Fund (@SolidarityRSA) April 3, 2020
Prof. Ramjee was unrelenting in her fight against HIV, TB and COVID-19. Therefore, the last thing she’d want us to do is to give up. So as a nation, we must fight to #flattenthecurve in her honour. While we do our best to conquer COVID-19, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Prof. Ramjee. May this amazing woman rest in power.
ALSO SEE: Understanding COVID-19
By Features Writer Ashton Kirsten