By Gift Briton

The Gates Foundation will continue funding health research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).

Bill Gates, Co-Chair Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), reaffirmed this during his visit to the institution’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya where he held discussions with some of the country’s leading research scientists and innovators including KEMRI Director General Prof. Sam Kariuki and other members of the organization’s top management.

Gates took advantage of the visit to review the process and results of the maternal and child health projects including the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) and Pregnancy Risk Surveillance Innovation and Measurement Alliance (PRiSMA) being implemented in Western Kenya.

The CHAMPS project aims to develop a long-term network of high-quality sites to collect robust and standardized longitudinal data on preventable causes of childhood death while PRiSMA is a longitudinal study of maternal and newborn health, with an emphasis on the pregnancy risk factors and their associations with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Bill Gates at KEMRI premises
Photo credits: KEMRI

KEMRI has been a recipient of the Foundation for close to two decades.  Apart from the two, the other project is the childhood Acute Illness and Nutrition Network (CHAIN).  This is a Network of clinical, laboratory, social science and policy researchers who aim to reduce mortality among children being treated for acute illness.

Through this project, KEMRI conducted an international cohort study to examine clinical and social risks and pathways defining mortality risks among young children admitted to hospital and treated according to current guidelines to identify what new interventions may be needed.

As a result, three sites were selected in Kenya: Mbagathi County Hospital, Migori County Hospital and Kilifi County Hospital, to encompass a broad range of settings, populations, hospital types and prevalence of HIV and malaria.

Besides running three sites, the Kenya CHAIN team undertook negotiations with external sites, training, monitored sites, data management and monetary management. The team conducted the main epidemiological, social science and laboratory analyses (KEMRI-UW, KEMRI-WTRP, CMR, CCR) for the cohort.

With funding from the Foundation, KEMRI has established partnerships across Africa and South Asia and a headquarters in Nairobi.