UoN wants 2.5% of Covid-19 fund go to research

The funds should be channelled towards development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines

In Summary
  • Government seeks to raise Sh28.2 billion to respond to the pandemic in the country.
  • There is a need to increase investment to strengthen the research infrastructure and capacity of Kenyan universities.
The University of Nairobi
COST-CUTTING: The University of Nairobi

The University of Nairobi has proposed that 2.5 per cent of funds mobilised to fight Covid-19 be channelled towards the development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

The university, in a memo to the Senate’s ad hoc Committee on the Covid-19 Situation, further called for tax exemptions for equipment, reagents, and other scientific commodities for Covid-19 and infectious diseases research.

UoN’s College of Health Sciences-led consortium that brings together the Kenya Health Federation, Kenya Health Informatics Association and the Health Sector Board of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance made the proposal.

College of Health Sciences principal James Machoki said there was a need for increased investment to strengthen the research infrastructure and capacity of Kenyan universities.

“Commission multidisciplinary academic and research teams to support studies and offer advisory services,” he proposed.

The government alongside the United Nations and other humanitarian partners have launched a platform to raise funds for Covid-19 response. The platform, Flash Appeal, seeks to raise Sh28.2 billion to respond to the pandemic in the country.

Machoki said there should be Covid-19-related research covering all areas, including scientific, medical, economic, behavioural and communication.

He further said academic and research teams would develop and deliver training and advocacy curricular to address issues of protection of vulnerable persons and populations and social, legal, and human rights implications of epidemic response measures.

Machoki said universities in general and colleges of health sciences, schools of medicine and public health in particular, are uniquely placed to contribute a range of capacities to bolster the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These institutions, singly or through collaborations with industry and voluntary sector, have a rich repository of expertise, and spare production capacity, which if supported and harnessed in a coordinated manner can speed up the development, testing, implementation, and evaluation of the multi-sectoral interventions to control the epidemic,” he said. 

UoN vice chancellor Stephen Kiama told the committee the university has multi-disciplinary expertise which if harnessed could give a better understanding of the disease for speedier and more efficient deployment of interventions.

He said the university is committed and ready to align its faculty, technical and organisational capacity to support the national response to the pandemic.

Governors in their memorandum said counties are faced with challenges providing laboratory services, personal protective equipment and isolation and quarantine facilities.

CoG said there are only two laboratories at the national level with their corresponding branches carrying out tests which pose as a great risk to the country since most counties have active cases.

They also cited inadequate hygiene materials including sanitiser, soap, sanitary towels, adult and child diapers for persons with disabilities as well as reduced access to food, water and other basic commodities.

The county chiefs also pointed out that counties are faced with a shortage of contraceptive options including condoms and oral contraceptives.

Edited by A.N 

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