Mt Kenya University jointly wins Sh540 million grant from Japanese agency for malaria research

Mt Kenya University. [Photo Courtesy]

Mt. Kenya University (MKU) will now embark on extensive research about malaria after jointly winning Sh540 million grant with Osaka University from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The institutes will have Homa Bay County in Nyanza as their main point of research as malaria prevalence is highest in the region.

JICA deployed the funds through the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) – a Japanese project funding medical studies in developing countries.

The research will commence in April 2020 and will last for five years.

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

According to Dr Gitaka, malaria in Homa Bay could be a thing of the past with the research established mechanisms in fighting the ailment. The research findings will then be replicated in other counties where prevalence rates are also high.

MKU was rated as one of the best medical schools in Kenya in a recent report rating the compliance of all medical schools in the country.

Speaking of what led to their winning of the grant which they bid for in 2018, Dr Gitaka stated that “We observed that there is a high rate of asymptomatic malaria in Homa Bay County and these people provide a reservoir of infections to the community.”

He also stated that out of the grant, MKU will get the lion’s share of Sh300 million while Osaka University will get Sh150 million, Out of the Sh300 million, MKU will spend Sh100 million to set up a Centre for Malaria Elimination in Kenya.

“Once the research is done, a Centre for Malaria Elimination at MKU will be set up,” Dr Gitaka added.

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