Kenyatta University has opened a Sh69 million research centre to train students, staff as well as traditional medicine men on non-conventional medicine.
The facility, termed as a breakthrough in the promotion of herbal medicine in the country will be used to test the efficacy of herbs, test standards and research on new herbal medicines for treating various ailments. It was funded by the National Research Fund (NRF).
KU Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainaina said the National Phototherapeutics Research Centre (PRC) is one of its kind in the country and will be used by other universities to train their staff and students.
He said it will help to ensure herbal medicines produced in the country are effective and meet national and international standards. He said through the interface between indigenous and modern knowledge, it will build a vibrant natural health products industry in the country.
Key programmes at the centre will include testing, validating and documenting indigenous and locally available resources to produce natural health products that provide equitable, affordable and quality healthcare in the region.
“The equipment in this lab is very advanced and can detect the elements in a herbal solution such as the amount of potassium, zinc or iron which our scientists can then use to help in treatment,” he said during the opening of the facility yesterday.
The VC added that the project will also go a long way towards removing the stigma among Kenyans who regard herbal treatment as witchcraft.
He said besides, it will help in entrenching the role of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in the East Africa region for social and economic development.
“The center will be open to members of the public and our herbal practitioners will be encouraged to bring their products for testing. It is a breakthrough in traditional medicine research, stated Prof Wainaina.
The Center Director Prof Nicholas Gikonyo said the facility will focus more on original medicine from plants and aims at working with traditional medicine men to discover new drugs.
He added that it will support the government’s health agenda and complement modern medicine.
“We want to reintroduce herbal medicine that we used to take long ago. We have a lab that can test their quality and also efficacy,” Gikonyo added.
The center will be receiving samples for analysis and also offering internships to students from various institutions.
The promotion of herbal medicine in the country has been a challenge mostly due to lack of a functional herbal medicine development facility, lack of a quality assurance facility for herbal medicine products as well as a lack of a laboratory and equipment for use in up-scaling innovative products to commercialization and licensing level.
By Muoki Charles