Mt Kenya University and Japan-based Osaka City University have jointly won a Sh450 million grant from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for malaria research.
The funds, which will be deployed for research on malaria prevalence in Homa Bay, have been provided under Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS), a Japan backed project that funds joint studies in developing countries, especially in the medical field.
The grant comes at a moment when MKU has been racing to strengthen its medical school in a market where job seekers are increasingly looking at science-based courses to enhance their chances of employment.
“I am the principal investigator in this project assisted by Dr Francis Muregi as co-investigator from Mount Kenya University while the Japanese side is represented by Prof Akira Kaneko,” said Dr Jesse Gitaka in an interview yesterday.
Dr Gitaka said their research will develop strategies to help eliminate malaria in Homa Bay County with findings replicated in other counties.
“We observed that there is a high rate of asymptomatic malaria in Homa Bay County and these people provide a reservoir of infections to the community,” Dr Gitaka said on what inspired their award-winning research proposal.
The proposal for funding was jointly applied in November 2018. The research in Homa Bay will officially start next month and will last for five years.
The findings will also boost Kenya’s research capacity and lead to the establishment of the Centre for Malaria Elimination at Mt Kenya University (MKU).
“The state of the art research laboratory at Mount Kenya University will be able to undertake cutting edge research on malaria,” said Dr Gitaka.
Osaka City University will get Sh150 million and Mt Kenya University Sh300 million from the JICA funding.
“It is also good to note that out of the Sh300 million we have been allocated, Sh100 million will go towards establishing a Centre for Malaria Elimination at Mt Kenya University which will be operational in the next six months,” said Dr Gitaka.
A report by the Medical and Dental Practitioner’s boards and councils across East Africa recently rated the university top in offering medical courses.