The Cabinet Secretary of Health, Hon. (Sen.) Mutahi Kagwe officially commissioned newly renovated state-of the-art-bio-medical laboratories at the Central Laboratory Complex at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) this Thursday, September 16th, 2021. The event which was also graced by Mr. Eric Kneedler, the Charge ‘d’ Affairs, at the US Embassy in Kenya and many other partners and stakeholders in biosecurity and research field.
The commissioning of these facilities is part of government’s initiative at KEMRI aimed at strengthening research capacity and in particular human resource and research infrastructure development in line with current and future health challenges.
While the immediate impact of the up-graded facilities is in the current COVID-19 health challenge including mass testing, genome sequencing and the COVID-19 drugs/medicinal research, the renovated facilities will also benefit research in an array of research ranging from the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research, HIV/Aids, Malaria and Schistosomiasis among others.
The modernized laboratories and other key strategic facilities that include the Sample Management and Receiving Facility (SMRF), a two Multipurpose Conference Rooms, Laboratory offices and Connector Buildings have been renovated with the support of from the United States of America through the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency Cooperative Threat Reduction (DTRA) and the Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) Collaborative Project.
The DTRA/ CBEP Project is a collaborative project between the Government of the United States of America (USG) and the Government of the Republic of Kenya (GOK) that focuses on Cooperation in Threat Reduction Biological Engagement Programs. This agreement was signed by the USA Ambassador to Kenya Amb. Robert F. Godec and the then, Cabinet Secretary for Health Hon. James Macharia on Friday July 24, 2015, during the visit to Kenya by President Barack Obama.
Four centers within the Institute’s Central Laboratory Complex including, the Centre for Biotechnology Research and Development (CBRD), Centre for Microbiology Research (CMR), Centre for Virus Research (CVR) and the Centre for Traditional Medicine and Drug Research (CTMDR) have received a major phase-lift under this collaborative venture.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Cabinet Secretary complimented the Institute for the pivotal role it has played in the country and region and for remaining true to its motto of “In Search of Better Health”.
He said, “we celebrate the work you have done not just in Kenya, but throughout the country.” And added, “research is a key component of public health, it is a well-known fact that medical research can have enormous impact on human health and longevity, and that the resulting increased productivity of the population contributes greatly to the national and global economy.
Also present at the commissioning was Ms. Emily Onyancha who represented the Division Chief of DTRA-Biological Threat Reduction (BTR), Mr. Mark Gibson, Dr. Daniel Mbinda, the chairman, KEMRI Board of Directors, and Prof. Sam Kariuki, the Ag. Director General, KEMRI among other guests.
The project also involved the installation of three new insectaries, two incinerators, renovation of selected office spaces, capacity building of KEMRI personnel in line with biosafety and biosecurity requirements on Pathogen Asset Control Systems (PACS), two office connector buildings, two- storey multipurpose conference rooms and building of a Sample Management and Receiving Facility (SMRF) that has been instrumental in supporting the Ministry of Health in COVID-19 surveillance and sample collection. The SMRF and two biomedical incinerators was commissioned in 2018 by then CS for Health, Hon. Cecily Kariuki as part of the Phase One project.
While receiving the facilities, Dr. Mbinda expressed his gratitude to the GOK through the MoH and the US Government through DTRA for their continued support.
“We are confident that we will continue working together to ensure we identify potential areas of engagement and training to support the professionals who work in this new environment form a networked health security system that will make Kenya and the World safer from illicit acquisition, distribution, or attack from biological materials,” he said.
On his part, Prof. Kariuki speaking on behalf of his staff, pledged to put the refurbished facilities into good use for the benefit of all Kenyans and humanity in general.