The Government has put in place favorable Policy frameworks that will spur health research and innovation and provide local solutions to local health problems across the Country.
Director Health Sector Coordination in the Ministry of Health, Dr Osman Warfa, said the Science Technology and Innovation Act 2013, which established the National Research Fund, National Commission for Science, Technology & Innovation, the Kenya National Innovation Agency and the Kenya Health Policy 2014-2030, recognizes research as a critical component of any successful health System and demonstrates the government’s commitment in supporting the development of research and innovation.
He said the future of the health sector was firmly grounded on technology, research, and innovation, adding that the current Covid-19 pandemic exposed the existing gaps and capabilities of the Country in the innovation space.
Warfa acknowledged that one of the major flagship innovations by the Ministry of Health amidst the Covid-19 pandemic dubbed “the Chanjo system” had largely helped the government manage and monitor the uptake of Covid vaccine in the country.
Speaking during the inaugural East African Hybrid Regional health, Research & Trade conference in Naivasha, Dr Warfa said the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), has moved swiftly to stamp its authority in the area of innovation and has recently completed the development of a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Covid-19 testing kit that is awaiting formal launch into the market.
He was happy that through government support, local innovators produced critical items such as ventilators and other health products that have been used as alternative treatment modalities, during the Covid-19 pandemic season.
The Director, however, challenged the academic and research fraternity to take advantage of existing local potential, such as the on-going health data collection by the Ministry of Health, which he noted has the potential of generating information and knowledge that can directly feed into the country’s innovations system.
He said the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has developed a guide that provides information to innovators and researchers, on what is expected at each step of the pathway, adding that government has provided more practical tax incentives to encourage research and development activities, in order to spur private-sector engagement that will promote local health products and technology manufacturing.
By Esther Mwangi and Calvin Osiemo