President Uhuru Kenyatta today (22nd July 2021) officially unveiled the first locally Developed Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kit at the KEMRI, Kilifi Centre. The rapid diagnostic kit unveiled is a prototype with a promising performance and is expected to go through a validation process in the next 30 days before it can be submitted to the Pharmacy & Poisons Board for independent evaluation and registration.
The kit will be ready for mass production, through a Public-Private Partnership with a local manufacturer by December this year. This kit is expected to increase access of malaria diagnosis at the point-of-care and significantly reduce the cost of testing. It will also support local industries thus contribute to job creation.
The President also made an announcement of the attainment of the first local manufacturer of Malaria medicines who has now attained the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Pre- Qualifications Standards.
During a ceremony attended by among others, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health, Hon (Sen). Mutahi Kagwe, Regional Commander, John Elungata, KEMRI Chair of the Board, Dr. Daniel Mbinda and KEMRI Acting Director General, Prof. Sam Kariuki, the President also took time to launch Kenya’s Malaria Youth Army Project as well as unveil Kenya Cuba Malaria Vector Control Project as part of the Malaria Action Day celebrations. As part of the Malaria Action day the President, also launched the KENYA’S MALARIA YOUTH ARMY where he witnessed the youth spraying larvicides at the Malaria breeding sites and indoor residual spraying at the community as well as a spectacular show of demonstration of use of Drone Technology in spraying mosquitoes breeding sites.
The President who is also the Chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) congratulated the KEMRI scientists for their steadfastness in conducting\ cutting edge research in malaria and other communicable diseases, saying that time is ripe for Kenyans and Africans at large to come up with home grown solutions towards eradication and elimination of malaria in Africa. But cautioned that this must be joint concerted efforts of all African countries because together we can achieve much.
Malaria, along with malnutrition, remains one of the leading causes of death in Africa, with sub-Saharan region accounting for 94% of the global malaria cases and deaths. Pregnant women and children under 5 years old being the most vulnerable.
He said that his government is committed towards supporting the development of KEMRI to become a world class research institution and that the government through the Ministry of Health will avail all resources that are needed to achieve this goal.
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a coalition of African Union Heads of State and Government working across 55 African countries with various partners including Regional Economic Communities and development partners to eliminate malaria by 2030 in line with Sustainable Development Goals. ALMA in partnership with Canal International is calling on actors to come together to fight the disease. Since 2009, ALMA and its partners have been supporting national health ministries to implement activities for the prevention, screening and treatment of malaria. The noble goal of ALMA, is, the elimination of malaria by 2030 in Africa where up to 94% of global malaria cases are found.
Kenya Medical Research Institute has over the years been at the forefront in the fight against malaria, with various projects being implemented in disease endemic counties which include but not limited to disease surveillance, case management, clinical and vaccines trials, vector control and management.