KEMRI: Ongoing strike is impeding health research
18 December 2013, 12:12
Busia - Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has been greatly affected by the ongoing health workers strike as the situation impedes the Institute's ability to carry out health research in health facilities.
Chairperson of KEMRI Board of Management, Ruth Nduati, said that their work that entails following patients in hospitals and back to the communities collecting samples before carrying out studies on them has been greatly affected for the past eight days.
"If the hospitals are not functional, we are very concerned since it impedes our ability to do research," She said.
Speaking at KEMRI headquarters in Busia after receiving an ISO certification, Nduati termed the act by health workers as an injustice because individuals with chronic illnesses are not able to access treatment in public health facilities, resulting in deaths.
However, she challenged scientists to further expand research saying that the KEMRI's budget for a whole year amounts to KES 18 billion where a great percentage is spend on drugs that come out of the country.
Nduati reiterated that there is need for the government to put in more resources in the sector, calling for collaboration among researchers worldwide in order to curb killer diseases such as malaria.
"Drug resistance is a major problem in management of diseases and malaria drug resistance research is something that KEMRI is actively involved in currently," She added.
The chairperson stressed that they have scientists who are looking only at the parasite and the vector because that has become a major problem in the country.
"Malaria is a challenge but we are actively making sure that we are monitoring drug resistance, and we have in the past advised the government on appropriate use of malaria drugs," She observed.
KEMRI Director, Professor Solomon Mpoke, said that they are participating in a multi-country malaria vaccine trial involving 11 cites in Africa, with three of the cites being hosted by KEMRI.
"We have released very important results recently showing efficacy of up to 50 percent reduction in child deaths due to malaria, and that is a significant achievement," said Mpoke.
He said that they have also carried out research on HIV and that results show the transmission of the virus among discordant couples can be reduced by up to 96 percent.
He added that the Institute is working on TB in a bid to reduce treatment from the current six months to four months.
"The ultimate goal is to reduce the treatment period for these diseases because it means reduction in hospitalisation, cost and possibility to make sure that there is no development of drug resistance, as this is a major challenge in management of diseases," Mpoke stated.
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