By Gift Briton

Kenya has received KShs. 3 billion grant from Japan to aid in the construction of a state-of-the-art laboratory facility at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).

Kenya’s President William Ruto and Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect during President Ruto’s visit to Japan.

The high-level laboratory will be used by scientists for training in research and development of biotechnology products that can quickly be used by the country in the event of a public health threat such as a pandemic.

KEMRI’s Acting Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Elijah Songok lauded the signing of the MoU citing that this investment cements KEMRI’s forefront position in leading other Kenyan and regional institutions in enhancing research and development for improved health and wellbeing.

“We thank our President and the Japanese government through this new initiative. With the construction of this new facility at KEMRI, we shall be able to support the country and the region in training a new cadre of scientists that will immensely contribute to the required expertise for research and local development of medical products,” stated Prof. Songok, who accompanied President Ruto on the Japan trip.

The grant aid continues the Japanese support for the establishment and expansion of research facilities at KEMRI. Japan, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has been one of KEMRI’s key partners in her capacity-building efforts, and recently marked the 60th Anniversary celebrations of the Japan-Kenya partnership in the health sector, through JICA.

KEMRI has received significant support from Japan in the health sector collaborative engagement with Kenya since its inception some 44 years ago which has resulted to partnership in technical cooperation & capacity building and grant-in-aid.

The lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated Kenya’s effort to build local capacity to combat emerging public health threats including capabilities to develop novel and effective medical products for the response. Moreover, the institute has been identified as an Institution of national strategic importance to lead in biotechnology research and development.

KEMRI is a state corporation established in Kenya in 1979 responsible for carrying out research in human health in Kenya. The institute has grown from its humble beginning over 40 years ago to become a regional leader in human health research. Currently, it ranks as one of the leading centres of excellence in health research both in Africa as well as globally.