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October 23, 2017

State asked to fund local researchers for policy-making

"Path Kenya policy and advocacy manager Pauline Irungu said a majority of Kenyan researchers get their money from international agencies." /FILE
"Path Kenya policy and advocacy manager Pauline Irungu said a majority of Kenyan researchers get their money from international agencies." /FILE

The government has been asked to support local researchers to improve the country's health outcome and economic status.

Path Kenya policy and advocacy manager Pauline Irungu said a majority of Kenyan researchers get their money from international agencies.

"[This] affects the type of research they are conducting because it is not tailor-made to fit our national interests," she said on Wednesday.

She said the state should allocate more funds for research to influence policies that have an impact on the economy.

"If we do not put out own resources to invest in the lives of Kenyans, then we have no grounds to say that we need to prioritise our issues," she said.

A study by Path Kenyan, Policy Cures and the Global Health Technologies Coalition in the US and European countries analysing how countries have heavily invested in health research showed that they recorded a significant impact on the return on investments.

"The study showed that for every dollar and euro that was invested in health research in the US and European countries, they recorded a return on investments that was more than 60 cents,” Irungu noted.

The investments were in terms of job and training opportunities and the supply of materials in health facilities.

Out of the 5,000 clinical trials being conducted in the continent, only 300 are in Kenya.

Some of the clinical trials include, the RTSS malaria vaccine trial, the use of a vaginal ring to help in HIV prevention, among others.

Irungu also called on the government to prioritise positive health outcomes in all their investments in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“If you want to know the development of a country, we need to look at the health of our babies and mothers. Once we shift our priority to this, then we are sure of having a healthy workforce that will be able to grow the economy." 

Although the government has commitment to invest two per cent of the GDP in science, technology and innovation, a lot more needs to be done to accomplish this ambitious target.

Diverse players in health need to engage the government to maintain its focus on investing in research and development so as to create an enabling environment for innovation in health to take root and thrive.


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