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MKU jointly wins Sh 450 million grant to fight malaria

Mount Kenya University and Japan –based Osaka City University have jointly won a KSh450 million grant from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

The funds will be channeled towards malaria elimination research in Homabay County and was availed through Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS), which is a Japanese government program that promotes and funds international joint research mostly in developing countries.

Dr. Jesse Gitaka  MKU Director Grants and Development Dr. Jesse Gitaka MKU Director Grants and Development

Locally, the research will be implemented in collaborations with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) who will handle vector related agenda and capacity development as well as the Ministry of Health through the National Malaria Control Division and Homabay County through their Ministry of Health.

Mount Kenya University had applied for the grant through Director Grants & Development Dr. Jesse Gitaka. It was the fourth attempt after it previously failed to secure the funds for three times consecutively.

“I am the principal investigator in this project assisted by Prof. Francis Muregi as co-investigator from Mount Kenya University while the Japanese side is represented by Prof. Akira Kaneko,” Dr. Gitaka 

“We came together as Mount Kenya University and Osaka City University and submitted our proposal to the Japanese government through Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) funding mechanism which is managed by Japan International Cooperation Agency and AMED which is an agency that promotes integrated research and development in the field of medicine, from basic to implementation research,” Dr. Gitaka said

Dr. Gitaka said their research will narrow into development of integrated strategies to eliminate malaria in Homabay County with the research findings replicated in other counties.

“We observed that there is a high rate of asymptomatic Malaria in Homabay County and these people provide a reservoir of infections to the community,” Dr Gitaka said on what inspired their research proposal

The proposal for funding that won the grant was jointly applied in November 2018.The research in Homabay will officially start next month and will last for five years.

The research findings will also enable research capacity development in Kenya and will prompt the establishment of Centre for Malaria Elimination at Mount Kenya University.

“The state of the art Research laboratory at Mount Kenya University will be able to undertake cutting edge research on Malaria,” said Dr. Gitaka.

The KSh450 million grant will be shared into two with Osaka City University getting KSh150 million and Mount Kenya University getting KSh 300 million.

Osaka City University will use their part of KSh 150 million on research and training while Mount Kenya University and Kenyan partners will utilize KSh 300 million for research and training as well as setting up a Centre for Malaria Elimination unit at Mount Kenya University that will be operational in the next 6 months,” said Dr. Gitaka

The partnership between Mount Kenya University and Osaka City University will also allow exchange programme between the two institutions of learning in collaborative research capacity building.

The researcher said their initiative seeks to supplement the government war on Malaria which has previously been cited as one of the leading causes of deaths in Kenya.

The research Centre at Mount Kenya University will have at least twenty researchers and students at any one time, enhancing research and innovation outputs of the University.

Dr. Grace Ikahu-Muchangi, Head of the National Malaria Control Division at the Ministry of Health, recently put Malaria prevalence rate in Homa Bay County at 27 percent.

 

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