By: ELIZABETH MERAB
Kenya is set to host a regional research and innovation hub to enhance study and development in medicine.
The hub that will be situated at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) will serve the five East African countries and will also be the second in Africa.
It will be set up by the government in partnership with the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDi) to bridge the scientific, research and development gap between the region, Africa and the rest of the world.
Solomon Mpoke, the director of Kemri said that the hub, which is expected to begin operating in 2016, will help the research institution broaden its research in product development as well as in innovations in communicable and non-communicable diseases.
“Given the pace at which things are moving right now, we are looking to establish the hub anytime next year,” said Mr Mpoke.
Speaking at the ANDi stakeholders meeting held in Nairobi, Cabinet Secretary for Health, James Macharia said that the government will provide financial support for the operations of the hub.
Mr Macharia, however, did not disclose the amount that would be pumped in towards the project.
“Accommodation has been provided by Kemri and we have agreed to provide financial support for ANDi to operationalize it,” Mr Macharia said.
The minister also said that the Ministry of Health has put in place legal a framework to implement a commitment to allocate at least two per cent of the national health budget to research.
“We have put in place the necessary legal framework to actualise a commitment of two per cent of the country’s gross domestic product to research and development,” said Mr Macharia.
The Cabinet Secretary said that the National Research Fund established under the Science and Technology Innovation Act, 2013 will facilitate research for the advancement of science, technology and innovation.
The move was one that Mr Solomon Mpoke said would go a long way in improving the country’s capacity for research and innovation.
Mr Mpoke said that although the money is yet to be distributed to research institutions, the allocation of two per cent (which translates to about Sh60 billion) of the national health budget is better than previous years.
“I would say that we are better this year than we were in previous years because of the increment of the budget allocation,” Mr Mpoke said.
Kenya is signatory to the African Union’s protocol that obliges member states to commit at least two per cent of their GDP to support scientific research.