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Economy

Kemri gets Sh200m to boost research in communicable diseases



The Kemri Head Office in Nairobi. File
The Kemri Head Office in Nairobi. File 

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) is set to receive a Sh200 million from the Ministry of Health to scale up research on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that are threatening to overtake diseases like malaria and Tuberculosis.

The Health Cabinet Secretary, Cleopa Mailu said that they want to arrest the growth in NCDs like diabetes, cancers, kidney before “things get out of hand”.

The minister said that the country is investing in evidence-based self-research to create immediate solutions to the diseases scourge and private individuals or institutes can also access the funds for viable study.

“For a long time we have depended on foreign researchers and we want to nurture our own local researchers to give us evidence data and innovations on how best to tackle NCDs,” said Dr Mailu.

Dr Mailu was speaking during the symposium on science and technology organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

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Worrying trend

He said that the current trend of cancers and other lifestyle diseases like hypertension is worrying hence the need to broaden the medical research scope.

Cancer, heart disease and HIV/Aids are leading killers as malaria, pneumonia deaths continue to drop, according to the Economic Survey 2015.

HIV/Aids, whose registered death figures had stagnated at the 11,000 mark since 2011, rose in 2014 to 12,235 deaths while cancer deaths shot up to 14,175 from 13,720 in 2013.

Malaria national deaths in 2010 stood at 30,505, the figure has since dropped to 22,948 currently. Heart disease killed 4,544 in 2013 and 5,030 in 2015.

The Japanese Nagasaki University is currently working in conjunction with other health institutions and universities in Kenya on a number of projects including; a dental health study to assess oral health among children and adults. This is in collaboration with the University of Nairobi.

Another feasibility study currently ongoing is a Tuberculosis research to inform vaccine development based on post exposure strategy.

“We use research based evidence to develop high impact health policies hence our continuous support to health research,” said Dr Mailu.

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