Covid-19 claims life of top HIV scientist Dr Arthi Ramkissoon

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Dr Arthi Ramkissoon.
Dr Arthi Ramkissoon.
  • Renowned HIV/Aids researcher Dr Arthi Ramkissoon died of Covid-19 on Monday. 
  • Ramkissoon was also active as CEO of the KZN Children's Hospital Trust, raising millions for the institution. 
  • Her sudden death was met with shock and disbelief by colleagues and friends. 

Well-known South African HIV/Aids researcher and CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Children's Hospital Trust, Dr Arthi Ramkissoon, succumbed to Covid-19 this week. 

Ramkissoon was also the founder and executive director of Maternal, Adolescent & Child Health (MatCH) - a Wits-affiliated public-benefit organisation that provides a broad range of HIV- and TB-focused assistance.

She had more than 20 years' experience in supporting the delivery of South African public sector HIV, TB, maternal, child and women's health programmes, improving access to health services, quality of care and health systems strengthening interventions.

MatCH deputy executive director Catherine Searle confirmed the news to News24, saying the organisation was deeply saddened by the untimely death of their chief executive.

"Arthi has dedicated her life to supporting the delivery of South African public sector HIV, TB, maternal and child health programmes," added Searle.

Searle and other members of MatCH, Victoria Mubaiwa and Jerry Coovadia, extended their sincere condolences to Ramkissoon's loved ones.

READ | Covid-19 claims life of SA's 'chief social worker' Connie Nxumalo

Ramkissoon's sudden death was met with shock and disbelief by colleagues and friends. 

Film producer Anant Singh wrote that he was devastated to learn of Ramkissoon's passing.

"Arthi was a committed medical professional. She was able to make a significant impact in the fight against HIV/Aids...

"In recent years, the KZN Children's Hospital became her passion project. She founded the KZN Children's Hospital Trust and became the CEO of the trust.

"Arthi almost single-handedly drove the project and raised much-needed funds to ensure that the dream of resurrecting the hospital came to fruition."

Significant legacy

"One of the coups she scored was the support of Sir Elton John and the Elton John Aids Foundation through which R50 million was raised for the hospital. She also secured a significant donation of R6 million from the Victor Daitz Foundation for the establishment of a psychiatric ward at the hospital," Singh wrote.

"I was fortunate to have experienced her steadfast commitment to the Children's Hospital and I was in awe of her passion and tenacity in making the dream of the new KZN Children's Hospital a reality. Thousands of children will benefit from the services that the hospital provides and the KZN Children's Hospital will stand as her legacy and a reminder of the sterling work she did.

"Our sincere and heartfelt condolences to her husband, Dr Prakash Jugnundan, their daughters and the Ramkissoon family. We wish them strength and fortitude during this difficult time of bereavement."

Richard Delate, HIV technical specialist at the United Nations Population Fund, wrote: "Words cannot express both my shock and sadness at learning of the passing of Dr Arthi Ramkissoon - a stalwart for sexual and reproductive health, and a fierce advocate for HIV. My sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues - her legacy will live on through her incredible contribution to improving the health and well-being of all South Africans."

Searle told News24 that Ramkissoon's funeral arrangements are still to be confirmed.

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