Ksh 10M Canadian Research Grant for Malaria Control

Researchers at the Department of Zoology have received $ 113, 000 (close to Kshs.10 million) from the Government of Canada to support a promising research project aimed at combating malaria through the development of possible phytomedicines – anti-malarial drugs developed from targeted medicinal plants.

Mr. Simiyu (right) with his other researchers at a laboratory session at JKUAT.

The objective of the 18-month study is to extract active anti-malarial compounds from medicinal plants in Kenya and Nigeria that the researchers have already identified. The study pioneered by Mr. Patrick Simiyu will be the main thesis for his PhD degree programme that he is pursuing at JKUAT and is supervised by three other scientists ; Dr. Helen Kutima and Dr. Waudo Walyambillah from JKUAT and Dr. Hastings Ozwara, from Kenya Institute of Primate Research.

Announcing the funding, Monday April 29, 2013 in Montreal, Canada, Peter Singer, the CEO, Grand Challenges Canada, the Canadian aid agency that manages the fund on behalf of the Canadian government emphasized that the funding was a demonstration of Canada’s
commitment to bold ideas with high impact in global health. Singer further explained that “by matching talent with opportunity, Grand Challenges Canada is contributing to saving and improving lives.”

According to Mr. Simiyu, the project will take several stages commencing with the collection of identified medicinal plants from where active anti-malarial compound would be extracted and subjected to chemical analysis to determine its quality and viability.

Mr. Simiyu says, the Institute of Primate Research will be instrumental in providing facilities that will be used to subject the final anti-malarial product to primates . “ The final drug products will be tested on primates starting with mice and phytomedicines generating strong responses which will be upgraded for testing to higher animals that will eventually include human beings.”

Malaria remains a major health problem in sub-Saharan Africa which accounts for over 80% of the world’s malaria. In Kenya, malaria continues to be a national concern as it plays a major role in child and infant mortality, killing a child every 30 seconds. It is responsible for about 30% of outpatient treatments, 19% of hospital admissions and 42,000 deaths per year; 34,000 of which are children below five years of age.

Bold New Global Health Ideas Win Grand Challenges Canada Funding

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