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Be exceptional at what you do, and your gender will not matter….

Dr. Barbara Burmen receives the 2018 Gro Brundtland Week of Women in Sustainable Development from Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Tang Prize Foundation and NCUK President Huey-Jen Jenny Su at NCKU, April 3rd.

Endorsed by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, granted by Tang Prize Foundation and organized by NCKU, the Gro Brundtland Week of Women in Sustainable Development commits to engage outstanding female researchers working in the field public health and sustainable development. It facilitates the creation of an international platform for collaboration and partnership between female researchers from Taiwan and female researchers from developing countries.

Dr. Burmen’s recognition is attributed to her accomplishments as a medical doctor and a public health specialist in the field of HIV and TB implementation Science at the Kenya Medical Research Institute Center for Global Health Research. The 2018 Gro Brundtland award is an important impetus for for Dr. Burmen to continue her research into enhancing population health and promoting sustainable health systems through operations research.

Dr Burmen’s current research focuses on the utility of Tuberculosis (TB) household contact investigation as a means to control childhood TB in a high TB burden densely populated region. Her research showed that nearly 80% of TB index cases had at least one household contact, and 23% of them were child contacts. The TB index child contact ratio was 1: 0.62. Latent TB infection (LTBI) as evidenced by a positive Tuberculin skin test was diagnosed in 43% of children and TB disease in 2% of children. The results fully support the recommended guidelines of providing TB prevention using isoniazid chemoprophylaxis to all child contacts who do not have TB.

This research also highlighted the issues that would need to be considered by TB programs when transitioning from a setting with routine TB household contact invitation to standardized TB household contact investigation and proposed sustainable methods to aide in this transition; a topic she would address symposium speaker.

Her prior research has focused on screening for TB in HIV, the use of cough monitors to increase TB detection within a health facility and screening for HIV in hospital and non-hospital settings.

Annual TB mortality in a PLWHA is ten times that in HIV negative individuals in their lifetime. Newly diagnosed PLHIV would benefit from TB screening and timely TB diagnosis. The initiation of Tuberculosis prevention therapy with Isoniazid will also reduce their risk for developing TB. We implemented an evidence-based approach to TB screening in 15 HIV care and treatment clinics in the Nyanza Province of Kenya, that led to the timely identification of 11% (81/779) of PLHIV with TB who were initiated on TB treatment and had favorable treatment outcomes. The use of lay persons (cough monitors) to improve TB case finding in community settings contributed to 33% of annual TB case burden.

Furthermore, access to voluntary counseling and testing services for HIV provided through research and programmatic settings run by our unit led to the timely identification of PLHIV who can receive ART to either decrease their risk of TB infection if they do not have concurrent TB infection or improve their TB treatment outcomes if they have TB coinfection respectively.

In 2013, Dr. Burmen facilitated the launch of an “Express Nursing Desk” in at a busy HIV clinic that facilitated the delivery of a monthly ART prescription after a nurse’s review if deemed “clinically stable”, and successfully reduced patient waiting time. This supported clinic operations as it had only 60% of its staffing requirements. This was incepted approximately 5 years’ before the inception of “Differentiated care model” (DCM) by the WHO that recommended different levels of services for different patients to alleviate the burden on the health system.

Dr. Burmen believes that women bring their unique perspective to science, which differs from that of males, and this leads to an increase in the range of inventions and breakthroughs. “Whatever problem is prioritized and solutions generated to address, it will depend on the gender of the scientists at that time.”

When women are involved in science, research is more likely to address problems related to women’s health and welfare and solutions generated are more likely to be gender inclusive. Subsequently, women are likely to receive better quality health care. Similar results have been observed where there are women in leadership positions. Women are also more socially aware than men and foster more "communal" qualities (good communal relations and inclusive environments), which can yield "immensely positive" results in scientific research.

“We also live in a society where there are are now some female role models to not only look up to, but to also approach for mentorship,”, commented Dr. Burmen. “Each application you make is an opportunity to reflect on your career path and sharpen your skills to make the next (and maybe successful) application.

“My advices for the other female scientists are: to develop a supportive network both at work and at home; to be willing to ask for and accept help both at home and in the workplace; to find time to mentor others and always know in the back of your mind that you are an inspiration to other women (and men alike) who are known or unknown to you. Above all, be exceptional at what you do, and your gender will not matter!”


Dr. Barbara Burmen
2012-date Doctoral Student in Public Health, Maseno University, Kenya
https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbara-burmen-5ab6b28b/

Articles published in peer-reviewed journals:

1. Burmen B, Mogunde J, Malika T, The use of lay persons to support Tuberculosis screenings and referrals in an outpatient clinic at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, Western Kenya, 2011(Accepted for Publication International Journal of Preventative Medicine)

2. Burmen B, Mutai K, Disclosure status and disclosure intentions among HIV positive persons in rural western Kenya, 2011-2012 Cogent Medicine 2017, 5: 1291096

3. Burmen B, Owuor N, Mitei P, An assessment of staffing needs at a HIV clinic in a Western Kenya using the WHO workload indicators of staffing need WISN ( Human Resources for Health 2017, 15: 9) Impact factor 1.647

4. Burmen B, Mogunde J, Kwaro D, Does routine (“opt-out”) HIV testing of persons attending funeral services adhere to ethical principles of autonomy (informed consenting) and non-maleficence (minimized psychological harm)? (Accepted Nursing Ethics) Impact factor 1.093

5. Modi S, Cavanaugh JS, Shiraishi RW, Alexander HL, McCarthy KD, Burmen B, Muttai H, Heilig CM, Nakashima AK, Cain KP. Performance of Clinical Screening Algorithms for Tuberculosis Intensified Case Finding among People Living with HIV in Western Kenya PLoS ONE 11(12): e0167685. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0167685) Impact factor 3.234

6. Cavanaugh J, Modi S, Musau S, McCarthy K, Heather A, Burmen B, Heilig CM, Shiraishi R, Cain K. Comparative Yield of Different Diagnostic Tests and specimens for Tuberculosis (PLoS One. 2016 Mar 29;11(3):e0152364) Impact factor 3.234

7. Burmen, B, Sigo, T, Mutai K, An assessment of the use of viral load as a marker for Cryptococcal Antigen screening among HIV positive patients at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital(International Journal for Research and Scientific Publications 2016 6: 9 ) Impact factor 1.60

8. Burmen, B, Mutai K, Development of a screening tool to improve the yield of HIV testing in Provider Initiated HIV testing and counseling for family-members of HIV infected persons and patients at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (International Journal for Research and Scientific Publications 2016 6: 9 ) Impact factor 1.60

9. Burmen, B, Mutai K, Kamire, V. Frodwa, N, The effect of Participation in a regional CD4 split-sample proficiency testing on CD4 test results at health laboratories in Western Kenya, 2014-2015 (International Journal for Research and Scientific Publications 2016 6: 9) Impact factor 1.60

10. Mutai, K, Burmen B, Comparing Marginal Structural Cox Proportional Hazards Models (MSCM) to standard methods for estimating causal Effects of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) on the Survival of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infected Patients in a Regional Referral Hospital in Western Kenya, 2011-2014 (International Journal for Research and Scientific Publications 6: 9 ) Impact factor 1.60

11. Ng‟ayo NF, Burmen B, Akoth B, Kiyukia C, An Evaluation of the Accuracy of CD4 Tests performed in five Public Health laboratories in Kisumu County-Kenya, 2011-2014 (International Journal for Research and Scientific Publications, 2016 6: 7 Impact factor 1.712

12. Burmen B, Owuor K, Mutai K, A step-wedge simple randomized trial to assess the use of Case Managers to Increase Linkage to HIV Care and Early retention of Newly Diagnosed HIV-positive Persons at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH), 2014-2015 International Journal for Research and Scientific Publications 6: 6 Impact factor 1.712

13. Burmen B, Mutai K, Sexual behavior, self-perceived risk of HIV and actual HIV status of sexually active residents in a rural community in Western Kenya, 2014 African Journal of Health Sciences Volume 29, No.6(Issue No.61). Impact factor 0.666

14. Burmen B, Mutai K, Beliefs about MC in a traditionally non circumcising community from rural Western Kenya, 2013-2014 African Journal of Health Sciences2016 29: 3 (58) Impact factor 0.666

15. Burmen B, Mutai K, Acceptability of HIV Testing and Counseling Services among Persons Visiting a funeral home in a regional referral hospital in Western Kenya, 2014-2015, 20 International Journal of Social Science Studies,2016, 4 (6)

16. Burmen B, Modi S, Cavanaugh JS, Muttai H, McCarthy KD, Alexander H, Cain K. Tuberculosis screening outcomes for newly-diagnosed HIV infected persons, Nyanza province, Kenya, 2009 Int J Tuberc Lung 2015 Dis 20 (1): 79-84 Impact factor 2.315

17. Kimeu M, Burmen B, Audi B, Adega A, Owuor K, Bii D, Arodi S, Zielinski-Gutierrez E The relationship between adherence to clinic appointments and year-one mortality for newly enrolled HIV infected patients at a Regional Referral Hospital in Western Kenya, January 2011-December 2012 AIDS Care 2015;28(4):409-15.Impact factor 1.60

18. Phillips-Howard PA, Olilo G, Burmen B, Otieno F, Odongo F, Odour C, Nyothach E, Amek N, Zielinski-Gutierrez E, Odhiambo F, Zeh C, Kwaro D, Mills L, Laserson KF. Menstrual needs and associations with sexual and reproductive risks in rural Kenyan females: a cross-sectional behavioural survey linked with HIV prevalence. J Womens Health, 2015 24 (10): 801-8011 Impact factor 2.050

19. Burmen B, Mogunde J, Olilo P, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)Infection Prevention Following Occupational Exposure among Staff at a Regional Referral Hospital in Western Kenya, 2011- 2012 (Submitted to International Journal of Preventative Medicine)

20. Burmen B,Mutai K Risk perception and Sexual satisfaction among recently-circumcised sexually-active Males and their female partners from a traditionally non-circumcising Kenyan community, 2012-2014‟( Draft)

21. Burmen B, Olilo G, Makanga M, „Victims‟ and „Perpetrators‟ of Intimate Partner Violence among Young Persons in a high HIV burden Rural Community in Western Kenya, 2014 ( Invited submission to Global Health Science and Practice)
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