DNDi will consider a request from the Institute to support an on-going antivenom study in Kenya. DNDi Research & Development Director, Dr Laurent Fraisse said that snake bite is a medical emergency not just in Kenya, but throughout the continent that deserves urgent attention.
Dr. Fraisse who paid a courtesy call on Director General, Prof. Yeri Kombe concurred that snake bites are an important Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) that should be given more attention. “We are keen on what you are doing in the area of snakebites because it is a neglected emergency in Africa,” he remarked shortly upon learning of the on-going research at the Institute.
According to Prof. Kombe, an estimated 1,000 people die in Kenya from snake bites annually due to either unavailable of antivenom or failure to timely access medical health facilities. “A characteristic of this challenge is that it also affects a portion of our neglected poor communities of our arid areas in our country,” he informed adding that he would welcome DNDi and other partners to support the Institute in addressing this challenge. About 20,000 deaths are blamed to the reptile annually in Africa, which unfortunately has to import most of its antivenom from outside the continent.
Prof. Kombe said that the two Institutions that have worked closely for the past 15 years should not shy away from expanding the collaboration to cover new areas of interest such as formulations of paediatric formulations against HIV, Hepatitis B vaccines and the Rift Valley Fever among others.
He also pointed out that KEMRI as a leading research Institution on the continent has both the human resource capacity and infrastructure to assist DNDi with carrying out successful clinical trials under the leadership of the CCR.
Dr Fraisse was accompanied to KEMRI by the DNDi African Regional Director, Dr Monique Wasunna and Mr. Eric Stobbaerts, the International Development Director in the Global Executive Office. The team was received in KEMRI by Prof. Kombe accompanied by the Director in charge of Scientific Programmes and Partnerships, Dr. Evans Amukoye, Corporate Communications, Director, Mr. Kamau Mugenda and Dr. Veronica Manduku, a Deputy Director in charge of the Center for Clinical Research (CCR). Others present were, KEMRI researcher, Dr. Jane Mbui, Dr. Cecilia Wanjala from Commercial Enterprise Department and Mr. Simon Bolo from the DNDi.
By Cynthia Gechemba