By Alfred Nyakinda

Health researchers attending the ongoing 9th Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Annual Scientific and Health conference (KASH) have been challenged to align their researches to the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda to ensure that all people have access to the needed health services.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the event taking place in a Nairobi hotel, Dr. Rashid Aman, the Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Health, noted that the journey into UHC requires support to strengthen health systems in the country to help address health challenges in the country.

While applauding Kenya’s premier health research institute for the strides made in generating scientific evidence that has helped the country make remarkable progress, Dr. Aman, who spoke on behalf of Health’s Cabinet Secretary, pointed out that there are areas that still need to be investigated including transmission of HIV from mother to child, malaria treatment, and rise of non-communicable diseases.

“Kenyan scientists need to help in finding a means of disrupting the cycle of transmission of malaria and tackle the transmission of HIV/AIDS among various segments of the country’s population,” said Dr. Aman.

In his welcoming remarks, KEMRI Director General, Prof. Yeri Kombe said, “KEMRI is committed to playing its role in conducting human health research, particularly in the areas of Public Health, Non-Communicable diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases surveillance in the attainment of UHC in Kenya, one of the country’s Big Four Agenda priority areas”.

“Research for UHC requires mobilization of resources through national and international partnerships to develop national research agenda,” said Prof. Kombe.

He also reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the institute plays its role in providing evidence to inform health policy and practice.

The chairman of the conference organizing committee, Prof. Charles Mbogo, noted that the conference is a perfect platform for young scientists to share their research findings, further stating, “In addition, the conference also provides a great opportunity for sharing good practice, cross-learning and mentorship of upcoming young scientists to look at current health challenges, test suggested solutions and make firm recommendations for policy.”

The three day conference takes place under the theme, ‘Leveraging and strengthening research for Universal Health coverage (UHC) in Kenya’ when KEMRI turns 40 years since its establishment in 1979.