Researchers in East Africa will benefit from a research fund established to address common health issues affecting the region.
The fund mainly targets areas which receive minimal support from international donors.
The kitty, a joint initiative of the schools of health sciences of Makerere and Mt Kenya universities, will also facilitate research and development of innovations geared towards addressing health challenges brought about by climate change and disease outbreaks which bear a direct impact on the economies of the affected countries.
Speaking during the launch of the fund at the MKU main campus in Thika, the institution’s co-founder Jane Nyutu said the kitty had received its initial USD 100,000 boost from a joint donation by the two institutions.
The two universities also signed a memorandum of understanding that will see them collaborate in offering joint training and enabling research amongst its undergraduate and post graduate students through exchange programmes.
“Makerere University is recognised as a leader in tropical medicine. We have provided leadership in research in medicine including ground-breaking research in HIV-Aids, malaria, Ebola and others. We believe that we have something to offer to Mt Kenya University as we also tap from them its successful business models that have seen it grow to where it is today,” said Makerere Vice-Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe.
He added that the partnership will not only enhance training and research in both universities but also unite the East African region in the long term.
“I believe we shall also have mutual learning of our cultures, the cultures of our communities and that our collaboration will contribute to making East Africa stronger and making sure that we attain full unity as the East African community,” added Prof Nawangwe.
Dr Stanley Kang’ethe, the principal of the Mt Kenya University’s college of health sciences underscored the need for like-minded institutions in the region to collaborate in similar programmes with the aim of providing home-grown solutions to the problems facing East Africa.
“That way, our region can spearhead innovations that avert huge economic losses, morbidity and mortality beyond the capacity of the affected regions,” he said.
East Africa faces challenges of the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases which are compounded by a shortage in health workers and inadequate access to quality health services by a majority of the population living in the rural areas.
“This kitty will assist us in fostering competencies in management, control and treatment of myriad health problems and their associated outcomes that continue to affect the region,” said Dr Peter Gakio Kirira, a researcher at Mt Kenya University.
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