The Parliamentary Committee on Health wants the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) to be allocated Ksh 50 billion annually to assist in conducting scientific research in the country.
Led by the Ndiwa Member of Parliament Martin Owino the committee said KEMRI is a crucial government institution that does research on diseases but has for years been underfunded thus depending on donor funding.
Speaking during a tour of KEMRI Kilifi, Owino said KEMRI was a hub of experts with long term experience and passion in research which if well-funded could help prevent diseases that could be dangerous.
He said for the previous year they had allocated Ksh 2.27 billion for the financial year 2021 and increased the amount to Ksh 2.9 billion for the next financial year.
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Owino added that KEMRI is a very important institution and has played a major role during this pandemic period including producing facilities such as sanitisers, masks that were previously imported.
As per their report, he said KEMRI was number eight in Africa and had the potential to do more hence the push for additional funding.
Currently, the legislator noted that there are 200 researchers to one million people as compared to the developed world where there are 5000 researchers to one million people.
KEMRI centre is currently conducting genomic sequencing of the Covid 19 vaccine saying they have already started the phase 2 vaccine trials
Daniel Mbinda the Chairman of KEMRI Board of Management said there is no country that can develop without adequate input on research.
“If we concentrate on research in health, we are capacitating other sectors of the economy, disease surveillance is not a monopoly of KEMRI it is a multi-sectorial activity which involves many government departments,” he said.
He said their aim is to ensure they concentrate on the surveillance of diseases as diseases move with the people.
Mbinda in addition said that they currently do not have the capacity to cover the whole country but they plan to reach out to border points which are crucial areas where animals and people move with diseases.
The aim he said is to detect diseases before they spread into the country giving an example of Dengue fever that has been contained at border points but has now spread across the country.
On his part, the Acting Director-General KEMRI Joseph Mwangangi said the KEMRI researchers’ experts are working hard enough to be able to find a vaccine for covid.
Mwangangi said finding developing a vaccine is possible in the country but it is an expensive venture and is appealing to the government to give enough support.
Lamu Woman Representative Ruweida Mohamed said they will advocate for the government to increase funding for research at KEMRI.
She said there is a need for the institution to reach areas including Lamu which is now having mega projects such as the Lapsset project and that that will attract mass movement of people from all over the globe who could bring diseases into the country.
By Dickson Wekesa