Scientists from Kenya and China have resolved to work together to help their respective countries effectively respond to the challenge of infectious diseases. The sentiments were expressed during a symposium on infectious diseases at the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC) held on May 6-8.
Speaking during a three-day symposium on infectious diseases at the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC), Prof. Di Liu from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences said China had made significant strides in containment of infectious diseases which Africa could learn from.
“Chinese and African scientists have for example worked together in Sierra Leon to manage the debilitating impacts of Ebola virus,” Prof. Liu noted.
Prof. Liu added that SAJOREC was equipped with an array of equipment that would be used for viral and bacterial diagnostics; a key component in management of infectious diseases.
The Director, Centre for Microbiology at the Kenya Medical Research Institute Dr. Wille Sang, believes international cooperation is critical in combating disease burden in Africa.
Dr. Sang pointed out the availability of modern equipment at SAJOREC which he said would significantly contribute to health research while promoting scientific partnership between China and Kenya.
“Kenya is making progress in outbreak responses. Yet we cannot achieve success working in isolation. Human capacity building remain a critical area where much can be realised through collaborations,” Dr. Sang said.
SAJOREC, which is based at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), was established with the support of China, to promote scientific collaborations and exchanges among Chinese and African scientists.
In a speech to open the symposium, JKUAT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said China and Africa have a great collaborative potential to inspire positive health outcomes of respective populations through research.
“I trust that the participant will forge new partnerships as a way of further strengthening the deepening relations between China and various african countries,” Prof. Ngumi said.
Prof. Yi Shi who has convened research working group to address the challenge of infectious diseases along the Belt and Road participating countries said the symposium was a significant milestone in actualizing collaborations with Kenyan counterparts.
“Some countries still have gaps in their capacity for virus surveillance. We hope to cultivate talent while promoting global networks to prevent and control infectious diseases,” Prof. Yi said.
On her part, one of the symposium conveners, Prof. Juliette Ongus from JKUAT said working with Chinese counterparts would enable Kenya to foster biomedical research in the country and contribute to reduction of infectious disease burden.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to 15 million people are killed by infectious diseases annually around the world.
Diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and flu variants continue to pose huge health risks to African countries, Kenya included.
On the multifaceted impacts of infectious diseases, Prof. Zhengli Shi from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said Besides deaths, infectious diseases also cause panic; stunting economic activities, and international travel.
She added that surveillance and control are both cost effective and sustainable approach to managing infections from pathogens.