Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has been selected as one of four institutions in Kenya, to partner with Nagasaki University, Japan, on a student’s exchange programme aimed at promoting ground breaking research in planetary health.
The programme dubbed: Planetary Health Africa – Japan Strategic and Collaborative Education (PHASE) was launched on Thursday, January 28, 2021. The goal of the program is to establish a strategic inter-university network with Africa on planetary health and develop human resources to serve as a bridge between Japan and Africa, and develop collaborative activities to solve global issues.
Speaking during the launch conducted virtually, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi who was represented by the Director of Grants Management, Prof. Naomi Maina, hailed the partnership as another great opportunity for enhanced cooperation between JKUAT and Nagasaki University in higher education, “specifically in enhancing JKUAT’s capacity in global or planetary health, as well as refining the institutions focus in supporting the Kenya Government’s development blueprint – the Big Four Agenda and the SDGs,” she noted.
“The opportunity that PHASE programme presents to JKUAT faculty and students is exciting and we look forward to working closely with Nagasaki University in actualizing the specific components under this important academic exchange,” said Prof. Ngumi.
Her remarks were echoed by one of the key speakers at function, Director General of National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), Prof. Walter Oyawa, who is also an alumnus of Japan’s Kyoto University.
Prof. Oyawa congratulated both universities on the PHASE partnership and reiterated NACOSTI’s support.
Planetary health is an emerging field which recognizes that human health and the environment are intertwined. Therefore, it identifies solutions that will help the planet to flourish by addressing issues such as global warming, food shortage, education disparities, and unknown infectious diseases, among others. A different and holistic approach from the preexisting one.
The JKUAT-Nagasaki partnership will be implemented at different levels through short-term training to Nagasaki islands and marginal areas in Kenya, long-term training to either University, symposiums and internship programs at companies utilizing Nagasaki University network.
There are also online exchange programs whereby, JKUAT has competitively selected two of its top students from the School of Biomedical Sciences to participate. Chelse Justine and Pamela Ntinyari Kirimi from the departments of Biochemistry and Medical Laboratory Sciences respectively, will commence training in February, 2021.
Japanese Universities have been partnering with institutions from different continents and for the year 2020, Africa was selected for collaborations on projects that promote international exchange and those that establish an information platform for Japanese universities.
JKUAT was lauded during the launch for featuring prominently in the aforementioned categories where the institution has been selected to partner with other Japanese institutions in addition to Nagasaki.
According to Mr. Festus Wangwe, Kenya’s representative to Japan, this move will make great strides towards advancing Africa’s socioeconomic development as tabled at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) held in Kenya in 2016.
This was also amplified by Japan’s Ambassador to Kenya, H.E. Horie Ryoichi who added that since Kenya is the most preferred business destination in Africa, it is the biggest beneficiary of Japan’s official development aid hence one of the reasons JKUAT was established as a research institution with support from Japan.
At JKUAT, the PHASE program will be overseen by a steering committee drawn from the School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Health Sciences. Chaired by Dr. Caroline Ngugi, the members include Prof. Rebecca Waihenya, Prof. Daniel Kariuki (Dean, SOBMS), Dr Kenneth Ogila, Dr. Josephine Kimani, Dr Amos Mbugua and Dr. Nesta Kagali, an alumnus of Nagasaki University.
The Inter-University Exchange Project is supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology – Japan (MEXT). Nagasaki University will also partner with Kenyatta University, Maseno University and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
The event was also attended by President, Nagasaki University, Prof. Kohno Shigeru; Director of JSPS Nairobi Research Station, Dr. Mizoguchi D; Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Dr. Yeri Kombe; Education CAS Ms. Mumina Bonaya; Prof. Joseph Chacha, Maseno University, among others.