Penniless KEMRI

It is official. The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) is broke and the Daily Nation has reported the same.

The research agency is so broke that it cannot replenish Covid-19 testing materials, protective gear and the much-needed reagents

The folks at KEMRI do a good job and even the Africa CDC recognises their dedication. It is a pity that the government of Kenya does not see value in them.

The institute has also been nominated by Africa CDC as a centre of excellence in evaluation of Covid-19 diagnostics in the continent

The Ksh 158 Mn Covid-19 funds that the government had allocated to KEMRI has run out. What a time to run out! The institute has now requested Ksh 950 Mn to hire personnel, buy equipment and fund other programmes. Of this amount Ksh 540 Mn will be used to buy coronavirus reagents and screening materials. Ksh 100Mn will be used to hire 62 more scientists.

It is now close to 2 months since Covid-19 was detected in Kenya and close to 6 months since the first case was detected in Wuhan. This was more than adequate warning for Uhuru Kenyatta and his team to get their act together. Yet, with all that time, the government of Kenya has not seen a need to ensure uninterrupted funding to an agency that is on the frontline of fighting this crisis. However, there has been time to take tea and snacks worth $40,000 in one month.

This is a country that has a new Minister of Health who spends his time in front of the cameras because he loves the spotlight but he cannot be bothered to ensure there is a proper program of response in the backend. Is it for this sparse funding that a top scientist at KEMRI who had stood firm in asking for funding, was demoted? He is surely vindicated by this turn of events.

If anything, this shows what value the government attaches to the lives of Kenyans – 0.

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