NATURAL PRODUCTS RESEARCH AND DRUG DEVELOPMENT (NAPREDA)

WHO estimates that about 80 percent of the population in developing countries depends on traditional medicine for their Primary Health Care (PHC) needs. Traditional medicine and its practitioners were officially recognized by the Alma Ata Declaration in 1978 as important resources for achieving Health for All.

It is no wonder that WHO has adopted a number of resolutions and declarations on traditional medicines. Notable among these are resolution on “Promoting the role of traditional medicine in health systems: A Strategy for the African Region” adopted by the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2000 and the declaration on the Decade of African Traditional Medicine 2001–2010 by the Heads of States and Governments in Lusaka in 2001.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute’s Natural Products Research and Drugs Development (NAPREDA) Program is a Vision 2030 project that identifies and develops effective traditional or alternative medicines and drugs for use against human diseases.

When HIV/AIDs came into being and there being no effective cure, many claims of a treatment by traditional healers and proponents of alternative medicine emerged. Therefore, there came a need for the country to have a system to verify these claims through scientific inquiry among others.

Now through the Centre for Traditional Medicine and Drug Research, the programme is able to verify and confirm such claims for what they are, true or false, by scientific means.

Among other reasons, the P3 laboratory was established was to conduct invitro analysis and confirmation of possible candidate anti-HIV natural products. To this end, the Natural Products Research and Drug Development Research Programme is the one with the mandate to identify and develop effective traditional/alternative medicines and drugs for use against diseases. For instance, through KEMRI research efforts, Zedupex, an Anti-Herpes Herbal Medicine for Management of Human Herpes has been developed and registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board. Meanwhile two other plant extracts for tuberculosis treatment are under consideration for registration.The process of identifying these compounds are tideous and time consuming.

As a result, KEMRI is now recognized for its work by the Africa Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation- (ANDI) Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing and Development of Diagnostics Kits and as a Center of Excellence for HIV Operational Research.

KEMRI is a health research institution with a formidable research culture that is robust, responsive and result oriented. It is for this reason that it has developed a critical mass of scientists, technical and support staff who have been able to turn it into one of the best research institutions globally.