KEMRI’s response to COVID-19 pandemic receives a major short in the arm after Equity Bank Group donated medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) valuated at Ksh. 1.2 million to support current testing in the Institute.
The donations include 10,000 pieces of surgical masks, 1,500 N95 masks, 3,000 disposable gowns, 1,500 pieces of assorted sizes of Nitrile gloves and 3,000 head covers.
The donations were made by Equity Bank Group Director of Marketing, Mr. David Nyamu (Director, Public Sector & Institutional Banking) on behalf Dr. James Mwangi, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer to Ag. Director General KEMRI Prof. Sam Kariuki. He was accompanied by the General Manager Equity Foundation, Dr. Joanne Korir and presented the donations.
Speaking at the PPE handover ceremony at KEMRI Headquarters Training Centre, Mr. Nyamu said, “We recognize the role played by KEMRI in the fight against COVID-19 and as Equity, we realized that the only way we can fight the pandemic is by protecting the frontline worker.”
He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had taught humanity valuable lessons that spared creativity and innovation especially in health safety industry.
“When COVID-19 came, it opened our eyes and we realized we have potential within ourselves…the pandemic taught us that we have to solve our own problems for example, PPE’s were being imported for Kshs. 9,500, thanks to local solutions, it is now retailing for as little as Kshs. 650.”
“These are the kind of things that are driving Equity, our passion is about identifying and finding bankable solutions to problems bedeviling our people not just in Kenya, but throughout the region, the banker intimated and added, “there is so much to be done and we are ready to engage, to partner with you for bankable solutions to these challenges.”
Acknowledging the donation, Prof. Kariuki praised Equity Bank for its charitable enterprise that has benefited millions of Kenyans throughout the country. He observed that was encouraging that one of the largest financial institutions in Africa was in partnership with the largest health research institution in Africa towards mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We welcome you especially for your zeal towards this noble venture and look forward to working together for even more benefit of our people,” said Prof. Kariuki who was accompanied by the Director in charge of Research and Capacity Building, Prof. Elijah Songok, Mr. Mahsen Abud and Vincent Okoth sitting in respectively for Acting Directors, Corporate Services and Scientific Programmes, Partnership and Grants Management.
Others present include Deputy Directors, Mr. John Musau (Administration), Mr. Kalu Kitaba (Supply Chain Management), Davis Mkoji (Corporate Communications) and Dr. Raphael Lihana sitting in for Dr. Samuel Kamadi. The laboratory technical arm was represented by Ms. Lucy Kayara, Mr. Nicholas Mwikwabe and Ms. Milka Muthoni.
KEMRI’s response against the pandemic has been complementing government’s effort in COVID-19 mass testing and provision of the Virus Transport Media (VTM) and has also continuously carried out COVID-19 sequencing which explains the COVID-19 mutations into several variants and proscribes necessary mitigation measures.
Other contributions by the Institute that has resulted in the dire need of PPEs for the protection of frontline staff, is in the innovation of products and services including development of a Point of Care (PoCT) and PCR diagnostic Kits, testing of drug efficacy, validation and development of COVID-19 vaccines the production of the KEM-rub hand sanitizers and the TB Cide decontaminant, besides provision of countrywide capacity building exercise on pandemic control and management measures.