Harriet Birungi is the vice president of International Programs at the Population Council, responsible for maximizing the value of the Council’s international presence by operating in an even more globally collaborative and inclusive way and increasing the resources and decisionmaking in the Council’s international offices, affiliate organizations, and the places we seek to have impact. Birungi was previously the director of the Population Council’s office in Kenya.
Birungi, a medical anthropologist, began her research career in 1988 at the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Uganda, where she coordinated policy and academic research. She joined the Council in 2000, and for nine years, worked as an associate managing the development, implementation, and monitoring of the FRONTIERS program in anglophone Africa to improve the quality of reproductive health services. From 2008–2012, she directed the Council’s USAID-funded AIDS, Population, and Health Integrated Assistance (APHIA) II Operations Research project in Kenya. Birungi also directed the STEP UP (Strengthening Evidence for Programming on Unintended Pregnancy) Research Program Consortium with research activities in Bangladesh, India, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal.
Birungi’s research evaluates the intersection between medicine and sexuality, particularly as both areas are the focus of governmental regulations. She also seeks to uncover and address the most pressing reproductive health needs of adolescents. Birungi is a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group of the World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research. She has served on the High-Level Group of key African regional leaders on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, education, and rights and on the Advisory Committee for the Joint WOTRO/MFS II Evaluation of International Lobbying and Advocacy. She has published extensively and presented at numerous international conferences.
Birungi holds a BA in social sciences from Makerere University, Uganda; an MA in development studies from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands; and a PhD in medical anthropology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.