KENYA— The Kenya Medical Research Institute(KEMRI) has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Japanese government through JICA , which is expected to enhance the KEMRI’s Laboratory Expansion Project. 

Prof. Songok, who accompanied President Ruto on his two-day official visit to Japan, witnessed the signing of the KEMRI-Japan Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

This is President Ruto’s first visit to Japan since taking office; his previous visit was in 2013 as Deputy President of the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V).

The MoU comes on the heels of a new Japan grant of KES 3 billion (US$18.808 million) to KEMRI to help build a high-level centre for training experts in the research and production of biotechnology products that may be promptly employed by the government in the case of a biothreat or pandemic.

The facility will include high-biocontainment laboratories with cutting-edge equipment for disease surveillance, pathogen identification, drug, vaccine, and diagnostic kit design, discovery, and development.

This is crucial to achieving the Government’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda, and KEMRI will be able to help speed UHC implementation.

The UHC implementation involves designing, developing, and producing local medications, vaccines, and diagnostics, particularly point-of-care diagnostics.

The grant funding maintains Japan’s support for the founding and extension of research facilities at KEMRI, and the facility’s construction responds to the present Kenyan government’s drive to increase local manufacturing capacity for medical products.

Japan, through JICA, has been KEMRI’s primary partner in capacity-building activities, and the Japan-Kenya Partnership in the Health Sector recently celebrated its 60th year.

Since its founding 44 years ago, KEMRI has arguably received the lion’s share of Japan’s generosity in the health sector collaborative engagement with Kenya, resulting in partnerships in Technical Cooperation and Capacity Building as well as Grant-in-aid.

The lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic have expedited Kenya’s efforts to establish local capacity to battle new epidemics and biothreat diseases, particularly the ability to generate unique and effective medicinal products for response.

KEMRI has been designated as a national strategic institution to spearhead biotech research and development under the GoK Initiative.

Prof. Elijah Songok, Acting Director General and Chief Executive Officer of KEMRI praised the signing of the MoU, stating that this investment solidifies KEMRI’s leadership position in boosting research and development for enhanced health and well-being among other Kenyan and regional institutions.

He went on to thank President Ruto and the Japanese government for this new initiative, noting that the construction of the new facility at KEMRI, will support the country and the region in training a new cadre of scientists that will greatly contribute to the required expertise for research and local development of medical products. 

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.