Prof. Gibson Kibiki addressing the YEARS delegates at the KEMRI headquarters.
The Kenyan Chapter of the Young East African Research Scientists (YEARS), has been launched. The YEARS, an East African Health and Research Commission (EAHRC) initiative, was officially flagged off during a day long ceremony on 28th of June, 2019 at the Kenya Medical Research Institute’s Training Center.
The main objective of this initiative is to empower young researchers from the East African Community (EAC) to be activity involved in shaping the future of research for health in the region. YEARS forum was approved by the 15th EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health in November 2017. The EAHRC Executive Secretary, Prof. Gibson Kibiki and Director General, Prof. Yeri Kombe officiated in the launch. Prof. Kombe is also an EAHRC commissioner.
Dr. Novat Twungubumwe from the EAHRC, Dr. Evans Amukoye, the EAHRC National Focal Point, Dayster University Don, Prof. Peter Ngure and his Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology counterpart, Prof. Harun Kimani and KEMRI Researcher, Dr. Steven Wandiga were some of the mentors that also attended and spoke during the launch.
“This forum is meant to help make and continually mould young scientists from the region for the future and I assure of our support in helping build this critical mass that will soon steer the health research agenda and find solutions to the many problems facing our people,” said Prof. Kombe.
Prof. Yeri Kombe addressing the YEARS delegates at the KEMRI headquarters.
His sentiments were shared by Prof. Kibiki, thus, “being a scientist has its own challenges and opportunities, yet we all need someone to hold your hand to walk through this long journey”.
Prof. Kibiki also challenged the young researchers to embrace the digital technology as a platform to address some of these challenges that remain unattended. “Through digital technology there is a lot we can do as youths without necessarily having any support, the best wealth any human being has is the knowledge which you get from the training and not the certificate you attain after the accomplishment of your studies. Are you able to notice the gaps and make correct recommendations?” challenged Prof. Kibiki.
He intimated that there are currently 20 YEARS drawn from the six EAC member states. Tanzania with six members has the highest number of representatives, followed by Kenya’s five, with three each from Burundi and Rwanda, while Uganda has two members and South Sudan one member. One of the YEARS from Kenya, who is also a KEMRI scientist, Dr. Judy Mwai recently attained her PhD degree, while her colleagues are at a different stages of their PhD studies. “The requirement is that each one of us has to mentor not less than five mentees who either new PhD or Masters students”, explains Dr. Mwai.
The National Coordinator, Olipher Mwakwaga and her colleague, Ms. Asiko Ongaya, also made presentations during the launch.
Prof. Gibson Kibiki addressing the YEARS delegates at the KEMRI headquarters