Prof. Machoki: Invest more in universities' research in COVID-19 fight

`College of Health Sciences Principal Prof. James Machoki at a past event at the college.

The University of Nairobi (UoN) College of Health Sciences (CHS) Principal Professor James Machoki has called for increased investment to strengthen the research infrastructure and capacity of Kenyan universities in the wake of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to Prof. Machoki, there is need to carry out Covid-19-related research that covers scientific, medical, economic, behavioural and communication areas.

Prof.Machoki’s sentiments were captured in a memorandum that was submitted to the Senate’s ad hoc Committee on the Covid-19 Situation by the University of Nairobi.

In the memorandum, UoN proposed that 2.5% of funds mobilised to fight Covid-19 in Kenya be allocated to fund the development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Furthermore, Prof. Machoki 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.

He 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’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 also called for tax exemptions for equipment, reagents, and other scientific commodities for Covid-19 and infectious diseases research.

On the other hand, UoN Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Kiama told the Senate Committee that 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.

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