Prof Jefitha Karimuro from Department of Ophthalmology, receives the 2014 Distinguished Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Researcher Award
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Date and time: 
Mon, 2014-12-15 11:34

Professor Jefitha Karimurio, an eye doctor and lecturer at the Department of Ophthalmology of the University of Nairobi, received the 2014 Distinguished NTD Researcher Award during the 8th KEMRI Annual Scientific and Health (KASH) NTD Conference held at the Sovereign Hotel in Kisumu Kenya from 10 to 11 December 2014. He was recognised because of his outstanding career in research and contribution in trachoma control. Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness: It affects the very poor communities living in dry areas with poor hygiene and sanitation. Professor Karimurio has been the lead researcher in trachoma mapping in Kenya since 2004. Moreover, he has published more than 30 articles in peer review journals, supervised of 29 postgraduate research projects to completion and facilitated many scientific conferences and workshops in his field of research. Most of his research projects has assisted governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to initiate public eye health projects and informed eye care policy.

So far, Professor Karimurio is the only eye doctor and university lecturer in Kenya with a PhD in Ophthalmology. He completed his PhD course at the University of Melbourne in 2012 where he developed to new prevalence survey methods to improve effectiveness and efficiency of trachoma mapping in large districts (population >200,000 people). The main challenge in large districts or intervention areas is the widely scattered survey clusters which makes it difficult to identify the specific communities that require mass drug administration (MDA) for active trachoma. To resolve this problem Professor Karimurio developed the “segment knockout” trachoma survey method where surveys are conducted in geographical areas (segments) with 100,000-200,000 people each and similar risk of trachoma. In addition, he developed the “TT40” survey method for trachomatous trichiasis (TT) to improve the efficiency of trachoma surveys. TT40 reduces the usually large survey samples required to accurately estimate the backlog of TT in adults. The backlog of TT indicates the persons in urgent need of eye lid surgery to alleviate pain and loss of sight. Participants aged >40 years are recruited. The prevalence and backlog of people with TT in the whole population is then extrapolated using correction factors calculated using data from previous standard surveys.

Professor Karimurio was educated at the University of Nairobi for his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (1984) and Master of medicine in Ophthalmology (1990). He was latter awarded a Master of Science degree by the University of London in 1999 and a PhD in Ophthalmology by the University of Melbourne in 2014. His medical career span several decades. He rose from a Medical Officer Intern in Machakos in 1984 through the ranks of a Medical officer (Muranga hospital), Medical Superintendent/Zonal Eye Surgeon (Machakos and Nyeri General Hospitals) to become the acting Provincial Medical Office (PMO) for Central Province in 1995. He then joined the University of Nairobi as a lecturer in 1995 but the Ministry of Health (MOH) also appointed him to Head of the Kenya Ophthalmic Programme. He performed the two jobs with excellence until 2002 when he spearheaded the creation of the Division of Ophthalmology (DOS) and handed over the rapidly growing office to an MOH eye doctor. In 2014, the DOS was re-named the Ophthalmic Service Unit (OSU).

During his tenure as the coordinator of the Kenya Ophthalmic Programme/secretary to the national prevention of blindness and founder head of the DOS, Professor Karimurio initiated several projects including ophthalmic nurses training, Primary Eye Care (PEC) programme, implantation of intraocular lens after cataract surgery and the Kenya trachoma control project.

Professor Karimurio also worked as the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) Co-Chairman for Eastern Region (1999-2004), Wold Health Organization prevention of blindness consultant to Eritrea, Prevention of blindness consultant to several NGOs and governments in Africa and the Kenyan representative to the global prevention of blindness and trachoma meeting.

The other awards Professor Karimurio has received includes the: Centre for Eye Research Australia outstanding contribution of a student award (2012), Harold Mitchell Postgraduate Travel Fellowship award (2012), William Angliss (Victoria) Charitable Fund travel award (2011), Melbourne International Fee Remission Scholarship (2009), Melbourne International Research Scholarship (2009), Department for International Development (UK) scholarship award (1998) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship (1996).

Expiry Date: 
Fri, 2015-05-01 11:34
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