Harriet Birungi is the country director of the Population Council's Nairobi office and a senior associate with the Council’s Reproductive Health program. Birungi, a medical anthropologist, leads the conceptualization and implementation of targeted operations research programs, and forges partnerships with the scientific community, policymakers, program managers, and donors to advance the Council’s mission.
Birungi began her research career in 1988 at the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Uganda, where she coordinated policy and academic research, consulted with government and donor agencies, wrote research reports, and led capacity-build efforts among young researchers. She joined the Council in 2000, and from 2000 to 2009 worked as an associate managing the development, implementation, and monitoring of the FRONTIERS program in Anglophone Africa, with the goal of improving the quality of reproductive health services through operations research. In 2010, as a senior associate with the Council, Birungi began co-directing the STEP UP (Strengthening Evidence for Programming on Unintended Pregnancy) consortium in Bangladesh, India, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal. She also directed the Council’s USAID-funded AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance (APHIA) II Operations Research project in Kenya from 2008-2012.
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 needs of adolescents living with chronic illness.
Birungi is a member of the High-Level Group of key African regional leaders on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, education, and rights. She serves 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.