The University of Nairobi (UON) has launched the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), a research Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
ARUA is a network of universities from different African countries and internationally that include University of Witwatersrand, Makerere University, University of Glasgow, Leicester University, University of Ibadan, University of Ghana among others.
Speaking during the launch, Ag Director General Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr. Patrick Amoth stated that NCDs are on the rise globally which poses a population threat.
“The rising cases of NCDs is largely attributable to adoption of unhealthy lifestyle such as tobacco use, unhealthy foods, insufficient physical activity, harmful use of alcohol and exposure to environmental pollution and toxins,” said Dr Amoth in a speech read on his behalf by Dr. Ephantus Maree.
He stated that in the aspiration of Universal Health Coverage, the Ministry’s objective is to have everything in NCDs covered.
“We are working with the relevant stakeholder to make sure we have comprehensive packages to insure Non-Communicable Diseases,” said Amoth.
He noted that NCDs are not only a public health concern but also an economic concern.
Dr Amoth also welcomed ARUA CoE as a major stakeholder and a changing resource in the region saying that MoH looks forward to a strong working collaboration with the UON and other teaching institutions to walk the NCDs control and prevention journey together.
At the same time, a representative of the Council of Governors Dr. Emmanuel Wamalwa stated that NCDs continued to represent a real and growing threat to health and development, a threat that exists in times of peace, but is magnified in times of disaster.
“County governments are fully committed to working closely with all key stakeholders including the academia, to address this challenge,” said Dr Wamalwa.
He added that the direct and indirect costs of NCDs to governments- both at county and national levels- are significant and are not only a community or government problem but also affects all.
“NCDs affect the productivity of the work force and therefore the private sector cannot be left behind,” added Dr Wamalwa.
He maintained that they continuously encouraged individuals to make smart choices when it comes to protecting their own health, ensure business produce healthier and more sustainable goods and need the academia that generates new knowledge, insights and evidence across the full prevention and treatment axis to combat NCDs.
“As County Governments, we’ll continue to invest and provide the right incentives to our partners to allow them to be more effective in the response against NCDs,” stated Dr Wamalwa.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor of UON Prof. Stephen Kiama stated that the centre is geared towards building research capacity for students and faculty and is continuously expanding, collaborating, networking and strengthening relationships with the ARUA and Non- ARUA African Universities, UK partner universities as well as research institutions, regional and international organizations, key government agencies, the private sector, civil society organization and strategic partners in Africa, UK and beyond.
“Going forward, the university, through the centre, plans to hold regular NCDs forums with practitioners and policy makers, support engagement between the academia, researchers and the public, as well as spearhead NCDs community-led research initiative focusing on prevention, early detection and global awareness while embracing technology to provide solution to the rising NCDs challenge in Africa,” said Prof. Kiama in a speech read on his behalf by Prof. Margaret Hutchinson.
By Isaac K’Obonyo and Hellen Mwangi