November 6, 2023
Ahead of the October 20 Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kericho, Kenya’s Deputy President H.E. Rigathi Gachagua, EGH, visited the Kericho, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)/ Walter Reed Project (WRP) Clinical Research Center (CRC), where he inaugurated the biosafety level 3 tuberculosis (TB) Reference Laboratory. The first and only College of American Pathologist accredited BSL 3 laboratory is poised to serve as one of the national TB reference laboratories, supporting advanced TB diagnostic testing including multidrug resistance TB testing. Currently, TB is the leading infectious disease killer of people and Kenya is ranked 13th out of 22 high-burden countries in the world. Moreover, the emergence of drug-resistant TB presents serious problems that represent great threats and challenges to human and public health. In 2022, Kenya had over 90,000 notified TB cases; of these, more than 700 were multi-drug resistant. This BSL-3 reference laboratory will, therefore, not only ensure prompt TB diagnosis but most importantly provide a comprehensive management strategy to control multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Kenya. Additionally, the research program will be able to use the lab to conduct TB preventive and therapeutic studies.
The Deputy President also inaugurated a newly installed high throughput, fully automated, HIV viral load (VL) testing equipment at KEMRI/WRP CRC. The equipment will enable the laboratory to turn around patients' VL results from about 10 Counties in Western Kenya, so that the health care providers and patients and make informed decisions about ongoing HIV treatment. This will contribute to the attainment of the UNAIDS 95-95-95 treatment target and the goal to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a public health threat by 2030. The site conducts over 200,000 VL tests in a year. The additional capacity also allows the lab to participate in HIV preventive and therapeutic studies.
H.E. Gachagua noted "I am impressed with the KEMRI Facility, which is benefiting not only the neighboring counties but the nation at large.”
The laboratories receive support from HJFMRI, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR).