The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has supported Kenya launch a diagnostic test kits and the smartphone-based alert system were developed under the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS1).
The development of the kit and the smartphone-based alert system (mSOS) for disease outbreaks through short messaging services (or SMS) are a major breakthrough in the 5-year collaborative project, implemented by KEMRI, the Ministry of Health and Nagasaki University with funding from JICA and Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).
“In most of the cases,” “it took several days for diagnosis to be properly confirmed since simple diagnostic test kits were not commercially available,” said Ms. Keiko Sano, Chief Representative, JICA.
Yellow fever and Rift Valley fever are mosquito-borne viral hemorrhagic diseases that pose major public health concerns. In recent years, Kenya has reported a high rate of deadly viral infection outbreaks within her borders and in neighboring countries.
As such, the JICA chief said, an alert system network for early response to outbreaks of the viral infections was required.
The Rift Valley fever rapid test kit is almost at the level of being commercialized. According to Kenyan health officials, the diagnostic kits will soon be made available at medical institutions especially at areas that are prone to outbreaks of the diseases.
“As the five-year collaboration with JICA on this project closes, we are confident that mSOS will continue to enhance the health architecture we have built through the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) in place and be able to give us a good surveillance on cross border issues. We will be better equipped to handle disease outbreaks before it hits our country and also respond to health emergencies when they happen,” said Dr. Jackson Kioko, director of Kenya Medical Services, Ministry of Health.
Through the partnership, Japanese experts through JICA have also trained Kenyan scientists and technologists.
Dr. Gerald Mkoji, KEMRI’s Acting Director praised the collaborative effort, adding that, “KEMRI and Nagasaki University have been working together since the 1980s.”
Senior health ministry officials, JICA experts and representatives attended the brief ceremony held in Nairobi.