Prof. Kiama, Governor Lenku hold consultative meeting ahead of launching One Health lab in Oloitoktok

A consultative meeting was held between the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi Prof. Stephen Kiama, Kajiado County Governor H.E. Joseph ole Lenku, his Deputy Hon. Martin Moshisho, and the PI of the HORN Project Prof. Mathew Baylis.

The purpose of the meeting was to brief the two main principals on the status of the project ahead of the launch of a refurbished One Health laboratory in Oloitoktok in Kajiado County.

In his remarks, Prof. Baylis gave a highlight on the project saying it aims at promoting and supporting research in the space of one health.

“One health is essential in the modern world, this is where we recognize that we can’t just leave human health to doctors because human health is affected by animals. The mission of HORN is to improve the health and wealth of the people of the Horn of Africa by increasing the local capacity to undertake high quality research. Its aim is to build a regional network of individuals and institutions able to deliver high quality research into the linkage of the health and wealth of people to their livestock and environment, in the context of how people interact now and how they interacted in the past,”Prof. Baylis said.

According to Prof. Baylis, from the onset the stated goals of HORN was to strengthen the ability of organisations to undertake training and research. He concluded that the Project had major achievements just to mention a few.  Research Capacity Assessment was done and this led to training of academic and non-academic staff.  Video conferencing capacity has been enhanced at DPGH and PHPT which is it is hoped to enhance research and training in One Health and enhance international collaboration. Rehabilitation of a cold room at PHPT has already been mentioned. The project has also provided financial support to Junior Researchers undertaking research projects co-created at ‘sandpit’ events. In addition the project has supported MPH student training to complete Part II MPH work. Training in Leadership skills was carried for the Co – Is in Liverpool as well as online training for others.

In his address, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Kiama noted that the project was officially launched by the then Vice Chancellor Prof. Peter Mbithi. During the launch, the VC signed a Collaborative Agreement between University of Liverpool and University of Nairobi which will see the release of an initial £ 485,631 (approximately Kshs 68 million) for full time postdoctoral training at UoN as well as setting up of a project office at the School of Public Health.  The VC expressed his delight at the completion of Kshs. 11 million refurbishment of the laboratory in Oloitokitok Kajiado County. He said that planned commissioning of the lab was the culmination of journey that took more than 2 years and commended Dr. Dismas Ongore for his role in culmination of the project.

“This project represents the core mandate of the University and we are happy that Kajiado County supported it. I have an interest to see that this succeeds, and be impactful to the Kajiado people and the world at large in the issue of diagnostics and also becomes a point of contact of interchange, for the exchange of our students and faculty from Liverpool and UoN,”Prof. Kiama said.

He also paid special tribute to the PI of HORN Prof. Baylis from University of Liverpool for his efforts at initiating and successfully steering the project. He further indicated his hope that the laboratory would enhance the capacity for training and research in One Health locally and internationally, enhance the capacity of the county in diagnosis of One Health diseases and above all pave way for further north – south collaboration in training and research in One Health.

Kajiado County Governor H.E. Joseph ole Lenku expressed his delight at the forthcoming official commissioning of the magnificent laboratory which had been a culmination of collaboration between the County Government of Kajiado, UoN and the HORN project.

“We are very happy that the University is going to be part of Kajiado. People in this area keep livestock and we have no doubt of the positive effect this lab will bring.

As a County we will closely work with researchers in this laboratory, to use the knowledge generated from the laboratory and sometimes put resources into it for the benefit of our people. The laboratory will go a long way in supporting livestock farming, which is the mainstay of the economy in this county, we are happy to see how we can use that knowledge to advance our livestock in terms of getting better breeds,”the Governor said.

He further commended UoN for their role in bringing this project to fruition as well as the Government of Great Britain and the people of the UK for their financial support in making the project a reality. He paid special tribute to the PI of HORN Prof. Baylis for his efforts and especially for the unique equipment provided for the lab.

Others present at the meeting were the Co-Is Dr. Dismas Ongore from the Department of Public and Global Health, Dr. Joshua Onono from the Department of Public Health Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dr. Sibhoan Mor a Co-I from HORN Ethiopia. Also in attendance was Mr. Brian Ouma the Chief Operations Officer of the University of Nairobi.

Dr. Ongore in his brief address outlined how the Project identified a laboratory in the Ministry of Agriculture and Veterinary Services that could be refurbished for the purpose. He continued that the Project requested and obtained authority from the Office of the Vice Chancellor to utilize local contractors from Kajiado to refurbish the laboratory. Subsequently quotation were obtained from contractors from the county and tendering process finalized. He concluded that the Project also bought equipment for the laboratory that have been installed following successful refurbishment. Dr. Onono on his part emphasized the existence of an MoU between UoN and Kajiado County which underpinned the refurbishment process. Dr. Mor expressed her delight at being in Kenya and looked forward to visiting Oloitokitok.

GALLERY: Launch of refurbished One Health laboratory in Kajiado County.

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