Kenyan doctor honoured for her efforts in helping fight HIV/AIDS
Barbara Burmen, a Kenyan epidemiologist, is the recipient of the first edition of the TWAS-Abdool Karim Prize, which honours women scientists in Low-Income African countries for their achievements in biological sciences.
Barbara was recognised her innovative approaches to HIV testing in the Kenyan population, and for her personal and professional mentorship activity with younger colleagues.
She also received the award for her research on people with tuberculosis (TB).
“The TWAS award is truly an honour in my career: it’s a chance to be internationally recognized as an early-career female scientist already making a significant contribution to the advancement of my field,” said Burmen who has over ten years experience in HIV programmes, both in the public and in the private sector.
“This award will make my grant applications stand out and give me a competitive edge against my peers. Being the recipient of research grants through a competitive process, will put me on the right track to an independent scientific career.”
Burmen is a senior research officer and HIV & TB implementation science leader at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Center for Global Health Research in Kisumu, Kenya. She has served as a medical officer both in the private and in the public sector in Kenya.
Globally, Kenya is among the most heavily affected countries by HIV. About 1.6 million people live with HIV. HIV programmes delivered in the last two decades have proven successful but 53 per cent of the 1.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS are still unaware of their status.
This is why Burmen introduced important innovations at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu county that has improved people’s knowledge of their HIV status.
She has also reviewed different screening methods to determine the eligibility of people to receive Tuberculosis Preventative Therapy.
Dr. Burmen’s efforts to change the health care system in Kenya have seen her receive numerous awards, including the Mohan Lumba “Young Scientist Award” (2011); the first prize for the 2016 edition of the American Journal of Experts Gold Medal; and a honorable mention at 2016’s African Society of Laboratory’s Medicine Best Laboratory Clinician Champion.