The government has been urged to support local researchers to improve public health and economy.
Policy and advocacy manager at Path Kenya 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. Irungu spoke on the sidelines of research and development meeting in Nairobi yesterday.
“There will definitely be certain expectations that will be aligned with the people funding the researcher and that affects the research being conducted,” she said.
She urged the government to allocate more money for research to influence policies and improve the economy.
“If we do not put in our own resources to invest in the lives of Kenyans, then we have no grounds to say we need to prioritise our issues,”
A recent study conducted by Path, Policy Cures, and the Global Health Technologies Coalition in the US and Europe, analysing how countries have invested in health research, showed they recorded a significant impact on the return on investments.
“The study showed that for every dollar and euro invested in health research in the US and European countries, they recorded a return on investments that was more than 60 cents,” Irungu said
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 that are being conducted in the continent, 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 urged 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,” she said.
Although the government has promised 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.