Public Health and Health Research Systems Programme

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Health policies and practices in Africa should be informed by the national health research systems. Strengthening health systems will ensure country-generated health research that will inform national strategies for achieving universal health coverage. Improving national health research systems is key to connecting health research and health care and therefore there is a need to systematic approach to collaboratively address these gaps.
Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases. Public Health programmes often neglect the contribution that addressing social determinants of health can make to achieving health targets, including the Sustainable Development Goals.

KEMRI’s research programme on Public Health and Health Systems Research, conducts research on multidisciplinary epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental, occupational, nutritional, social, dental population and health systems and policy. The flagship project areas including; epidemiology, behavioral and social sciences, nutrition, environmental/occupational health, oral health, health care financing, governance and leadership and service delivery. To this end, the programme conducts multi-disciplinary epidemiology research and biostatistics, social, dental and health systems and policy formulation.

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The Polio outbreak of 2013-2014 was the largest and most explosive to have been documented by the polio laboratory at KEMRI. Arising The Polio outbreak of 2013-2014 was the largest and most explosive to have been documented by the polio laboratory at KEMRI. Arising from that outbreak the laboratory supported the Kenya Ministry of Health to start poliovirus surveillance in sewage and waste water, sampling on a two weekly basis in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Garrissa. The laboratory is in a position to process AFP stool samples for poliovirus isolation. It is through that process a wild type 1 poliovirus was confirmed in Eastleigh, area in Nairobi County.
The laboratory also undertakes routine diagnosis for measles and rubella. Out of its outstanding work the KEMRI polio laboratory is classified within the WHO Global Network of Polio Laboratories as a National and Inter-country laboratory designated to serve:

Kenya,

Somalia,

Eritrea and,

Djibouti

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In another study the Kericho team in collaboration with Boston University have an applied research component which aims to produce documented evidence of the economic outcomes of treatment.

Here the Kericho tea plantations presented a unique opportunity since individual worker’s productivity is measured in Kilos which equates to earnings.

When a study was conducted there it was observed that once a HIV positive individual received treatment, though their productivity may have declined, there was a steady increase and by six months productivity was restored which meant more earnings for them. Applied research therefore provides evidence for the core mission of public health which is to improve the health of the populations for increased productivity.