Dr Edwine Barasa, 38

Health Economist, Director

KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Nairobi Programme

From being the top of his class in school to soaring high at Lenana School and now to heading the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Nairobi programme where he joined eight years ago as junior research assistant, Edwine’s drive has remained on course.

The father-of-one is currently at Oxford University, where he teaches and supervises students once in a while as a visiting research fellow, as he practices the professional mix of economics and medicine.

Dr Barasa who studied pharmacy at the University of Nairobi, recalls how his humble upbringing in western Kenya and his role of as first-born propelled him to go for the best.

“If I failed, then it would mean others would have narrow chances of succeeding. I had the passion to aim at the best and that has been my philosophy,” he says.

The health economist is part of the expert panel on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

His professional journey was driven by the desire to touch both the business and the health world, a drive that saw him take accounting courses amidst his busy pharmacy classes. He also has a Masters as well as PhD degree in Health Economics from the University of Cape Town.

A strong believer in health planning, he has set up a research team of 15 that works under his guidance to come up with information that can be used to design future health sector plans.

His research work focuses on analysing health financing reforms, priority setting in healthcare, equity and efficiency analysis in healthcare, economics of non-communicable diseases, economic evaluation of healthcare interventions, measuring health systems performance, and health system governance.

Edwine, who is married to a pharmacist, loves playing with his five-year-old son listening to Afro-Jazz in his free time.

— Edwin Okoth