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Government Places Interventions To Reduce Cancer Burden

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The government is investing more in cancer research and putting up more health facilities to ensure that Kenyans have close access to health facilities in a move aimed at reducing cancer burden in the country.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said that in Nairobi County alone, the government has already put up 19 new health facilities with six more being rehabilitated and was currently working towards delivering on the President’s directive to build an additional 50 facilities in different parts of the country.

Noting that cancer prevalence at the community level was rising by day, the CS called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders in the fight against cancer adding that if unchecked, the cancer burden could cripple Kenya’s economic prospects further hindering the achievement of Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals.

He said the Ministry of Health established the National Cancer Taskforce in 2021, as a measure to enhance cancer control and management in the country adding that the taskforce has embarked on the process of reviewing the institutional framework for cancer management, assessing cancer human resources, health products, technologies and infrastructure in addition to reviewing existing legislation and policies on cancer prevention and providing strategic recommendations.

According to Kagwe, the taskforce was also tasked with analyzing stakeholders and actors in the cancer ecosystem, propose an effective governance and coordination framework and recommend strategic interventions for resource mobilization for effective implementation of the identified cancer control interventions.

In a speech read by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o during the National Cancer Retreat Stakeholders meeting in Naivasha, the CS said that the newly launched Universal Health Coverage presents an enhanced ground for creating awareness on cancer prevention, enhanced screening, early diagnosis and treatment access.

Kagwe noted that cancer accounted for approximately 10 percent of all disease mortalities in Kenya.

The minister said the government is also aligning its cancer control framework to the various global initiatives on cancer control including elimination of cervical cancer as a health problem, the global breast and childhood cancers initiatives among others.

Kagwe at the same time said the government is working to tap emerging technologies in cancer management and ensuring that cancer research is embedded in the various established cancer centres while ensuring that palliative care is achieved at a lower cost as provided under the National Palliative Care Policy framework (2021 – 2030).

According to Dr Alfred Karagu of the Cancer Institute of Kenya, cancer is a major menace in Kenya with 42,000 new cancer cases and 27,000 deaths reported every year but he was quick to note that most deaths could be averted on early screening and diagnosis.

Karagu said that the leading types of cancer that accounted for more than 70 percent of cases in the country were breast, cervical, prostate, esophageal and colon cancers. He added that the leading causes of cancer cases were lifestyle changes, obesity, advanced age and late diagnosis.

By Esther Mwangi and Erastus Gichohi

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Energy

Sahara Foundation Promotes Clean Energy With Sahara Impact Fund

The Sahara Impact Fund will provide seed funding of $5,000 each for successful finalists, including incremental funding access based on impact, reach and sustainability matrices targeted at supporting young social entrepreneurs in Africa.

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Sahara Foundation, the corporate citizenship vehicle of energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Sahara Group, has launched the 2nd Cohort of the Sahara Impact Fund (SIF) and the Governance Unusual Program to support social innovators  creating solutions that increase access to clean energy and promote sustainable environments.

 The project reinforces Sahara Group’s commitment to bringing energy to life responsibly by connecting social innovators with opportunities that will enhance their contribution to eradicating energy poverty and enhancing environmental sustainability. The SIF is a strategic partnership involving Sahara Foundation, Ford Foundation, LEAP Africa and Impact Investors Foundation.

The Sahara Impact Fund will provide seed funding of $5,000 each for successful finalists, including incremental funding access based on impact, reach and sustainability matrices targeted at supporting young social entrepreneurs in Africa. In addition, the Fellows will have mentoring sessions with business leaders at Sahara Group and other private sector partners, to scale up clean energy and sustainable environment innovations.

The inaugural cohort of the SIF produced Fellows from Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda and Malawi who are spearheading transformative solutions through their businesses. According to Damilola Asaleye, Co- founder- Ashdam Solar “The learnings from the Sahara Impact Fund fellowship have become a daily guide for my organization to achieve our strategic plans of providing access to clean and affordable energy for all in Nigeria.”

“In addition to the seed capital, which was a great boost to my business, I have also built professional networks with like-minded passionate entrepreneurs from all over Africa,” said Ghislain Irakoze , Founder, Wastezon, Rwanda.

Pearl Uzokwe, Director, Sahara Foundation, said the Sahara Impact Fund and Governance Unusual program will reinforce ongoing conversations around increasing entrepreneurial capacity and inspiring a paradigm shift in governance through individual responsibility. “We are delighted to lead and join the quest of ensuring that no one is left behind when it comes to energy access and shore up expertise and capacity towards providing global solutions for environmental sustainability. We urge social innovators across Africa to apply to be part of this movement today,” she said.

Uzokwe said applications for the SIF are open from 9th May 2022 to 30th May 2022. “Full details of the application process are available across our social media platforms @iamsaharafdn and the Ujana Hub at www.ujanahub.com. Enquiries can also be sent to sahara.foundation@sahara-group.com,” she added.

The maiden edition in 2021 exposed the ten (10) social innovator fellows to blended capacity building sessions in the form of workshops, webinars, immersion sessions, facility tours, cohort meetings, mentoring sessions, one-on-one strategy & finance sessions and Fire chat sessions.

Since inception, Sahara Foundation has implemented various projects across its locations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, impacting the lives of over 2,000,000 beneficiaries, with youth accounting for over 50% of the beneficiaries.

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KHF Welcomes the African Medicines Agency Treaty Cabinet Approval

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The Kenya Health Federation (KHF) has welcomed the cabinet’s approval to ratify the African Medicines Agency (AMA) Treaty.

On Thursday, the cabinet chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta approved the ratification of the African Union Treaty for the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), which now awaits the passing of the necessary legislative instruments at the National Assembly.

Speaking when he confirmed KHF’s support for the ratification of the AMA instrument, KHF chairperson Dr Kanyenje Gakombe said local health stakeholders would provide the necessary support to the Government in the race towards the establishment of AMA Headquarters in Kenya.

The establishment of AMA in Kenya, he said, will provide the country with an opportunity to leverage foreign direct investment flows estimated at more than Kshs 570 billion in the short-to-medium term.

The establishment of AMA locally, Dr Gakombe said, will enhance our national competitiveness as a healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in sub-Sahara Africa. He noted that the AMA Treaty ratification will strengthen our national positioning as a pharmaceutical, health products and technologies investment destination.

“KHF, which is the Health Sector Board of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), salutes the cabinet and the Ministry of Health for moving a step further towards the signing and ratification of the AMA Treaty,” Dr Gakombe said.

He added: “We now humbly request our Members of Parliament to prioritise the passing of the legislative instruments to boost further our chance of hosting the AMA in Kenya. The support of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and his officers in this journey has been immense and commendable.”

Based on the recent securing of a US$500 million investment commitment by pharmaceutical biotechnology firm Moderna seeking to set up a manufacturing plant in Kenya, KHF estimates that the hosting of AMA in Kenya will ignite a tenfold commitment to similar investments.

“Kenya is currently well placed and resourced intellectually to act as the AMA host site of choice. The recent commitment by Moderna is a good example, and we have a good chance to scale up the commitments ten times if we push and lobby for the hosting of AMA in Kenya,” Dr Gakombe said.

He further noted that the hosting of AMA in Kenya and the proposed setting up of the Moderna manufacturing plant would provide immense social and economic benefits, including quality job creation, while securing our national competitiveness as the home of big pharma in Africa.

Dr Gakombe said: “We are confident that these two opportunities; Moderna Manufacturing Facility and AMA, present huge benefits for our country and its citizens, which include, among others; sustainable supply chains, technology transfer, knowledge transfer, skills transfer, manufacture of complex and more advanced medicines and economic empowerment through the creation of new quality jobs and export opportunities.”

The AMA Treaty entered into force on 5th November 2021 upon depositing the 15th Instrument of ratification at the African Union Commission.

AMA is an African Continental Agency that contributes to the improved regulation of medicines, medical products and technologies and to advance the implementation of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan of Africa.

This will further cement the Business Case for Kenya as a Hub for high quality and affordable health products, health Technologies and healthcare delivery attracting investments in Biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, related medical products and infrastructure and therefore catapulting Kenya to a leadership position in the sustainable supply of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical products, medical technologies, healthcare technology and service delivery.

The local healthcare system, with its large and well-trained and skilled workforce, including specialists in state-of-the-art medical facilities spread across the public and private sector, makes Kenya ideal for the Moderna Vaccine Manufacture.

The establishment of the Kenya Biovax Ltd. and the formation of a National Multi-Agency Committee of Human Vaccine Production by the Government of Kenya was one of the first steps toward realizing human vaccine manufacturing in Kenya.

While the Moderna Vaccine manufacturing plant will be the first of its kind in Kenya, it is noteworthy that Kenya has been manufacturing animal vaccines through the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute.

This experience can be leveraged in setting up and running the proposed COVID19 manufacturing plant.

Research, development, and production of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa is critical to ensure the sustainable supply of vaccines to enable a quicker response to other infectious agents in the future.

This approach could become a rewarding investment for companies, governments, and funders since Africa’s demand for vaccines already makes up about a quarter of global vaccine volume and is expected to increase with the region’s estimated 2.5% annual population growth.

Since the inception of the Kenya Expanded Programmes on Immunization (KEPI) in 1980 as a part of the Global Expanded Programmes for Immunization, Kenya has made significant progress in the prevention of many vaccine-preventable killer human diseases.

This was followed by the initiation of several vaccine programs like the Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative – Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI -ICR). KAVI – ICR is a research unit, established in 1998, that has successfully undertaken numerous HIV vaccine trials, drug trials, epidemiological, and basic research projects.

In addition, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)- Wellcome Trust Research Programmes formally established in 1989, is a partnership between KEMRI, Oxford University, and the Wellcome Trust.

KEMRI has grown from its humble beginnings over 40 years ago to become a regional leader in human health research, including vaccine research, and currently ranks as one of the leading Centres of excellence in health research both in Africa and globally.

It conducts basic, epidemiological, and clinical research in parallel and aims to expand the country’s capacity to conduct multidisciplinary research that is strong, sustainable, and internationally competitive.

In 2021, Kenya launched the first malaria vaccine (RTS, S) administration alongside Malawi and Ghana, following three decades of research on the vaccine.

This ongoing discussion demonstrates that Kenya is well equipped with expertise for vaccine research, clinical trials, epidemiological studies, and pharmacovigilance studies.

A local manufacturing plant for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will ramp up Kenya’s human vaccine resources and contribute to the achievement of UHC, which includes ensuring that all citizens live free of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Notably, this initiative will serve as a benchmark and guide for other vaccine and drug manufacturing facilities in Kenya and the region, even as Kenya attracts health investors.

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Health

Cabinet Secretary for The Interior Dr. Fred Matiangi Directs NGAOs to Fight Gender Based Violence, Teenage Pregnancy and HIV

“Tackling these threats requires a multifaceted approach. I cannot emphasize enough the need for strong community health and administrative systems, supported by an equally strong multi-agency approach as key pillars in the prevention and management of these vices,” added Matiang’i.

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CS Interior Dr Fred Matiang'i in Mombasa during a meeting with government officials in an HIV - Aids stakeholders forum. Photo: Jane Mwanza/ Correspondent.Africa
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Cabinet Secretary of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Dr. Fred Matiang’I has directed National Government Administration Officers (NGAOs) to firmly deal with catalysts fuelling teen pregnancies, new HIV infections and gender based violence in the country.
All senior NGAO officers were directed by the CS  to ensure that perpetrators of teenage pregnancies and gender based violence face the full force of law and ensure that any girl who gets pregnant goes back to school.
“Tackling these threats requires a multifaceted approach. I cannot emphasize enough the need for strong community health and administrative systems, supported by an equally strong multi-agency approach as key pillars in the prevention and management of these vices,” noted Matiang’i.
Speaking in Mombasa, Matiang’i described practices like night vigils popularly known as disco matanga and traditional courts system as forums exacerbating the three social challenges facing young girls aged between 10 and 19 years.
The CS was addressing regional and county commissioners in Mombasa during the National Dialogue on their roles in coordinating and response against HIV, Teenage pregnancies and gender based violence code named ‘Triple Threat’ in Kenya.
“There is no way we’re going to achieve the big four, vision 2030 and agenda 63 by V.A.U  if we’re not effectively, putting our efforts where they are mostly needed namely stamping out gender based violence, fighting teenage pregnancy and ensuring there is tackle the issue of HIV in the country,” said the CS.
Matiangi therefore directed County Commissioners to be ruthless when dealing with the vices and where necessary sack Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs found protecting culprits of the vices from prosecutions.
The three days national dialogue on the ‘Triple Threat’ taking place at English Point Marina is attended by the eight Regional Commissioners and 47 County Commissioners to discuss the roles of NGAOs officers in scaling down the surge in the vices in the country.
However CS Matiangi further ordered the top ranked administrators to use established structures to mop up public sanitization campaigns with the objective of halting the causes spreading the vices he termed as silent pandemic affecting the country’s youthful population.
“I therefore, call upon the county commissioners to ensure that we include the agenda of ending the triple threats in our public engagements programmes. Create a conducive environment where young people thrive without discrimination, stigma and violence,” he directed.
“Improve school enrolment, retention, transition and completion rates by ensuring that all children are in school,” said the Minister.
He also asked his officers to leverage on barazas and nyumba kumi meetings to engage gatekeepers and religious leaders to create awareness, report cases with a view of scaling down cases, encourage community centered solutions, collect data to ensure evidence based decision making and response.
The government will now focus more with partnerships among education officers, Nyumba Kumi elders, parents associations as well as non-state actors to encourage all children to attend and remain in school and transition to the next level. This will also involve collaboration with community and religious leaders to enforce laws legislating the age of marriage at above 18 years among all communities.
Dr. Matiang’i also called on National Aids Control Council (NACC) and National Council For Population and Development (NCPD) to equip County Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners with the necessary skills, so that they serve as Training of Trainers to bolster the fight against the triple threat.
“On this matter, there is no NGAO, ministry of health, or education ministry. It is all of us versus Triple Threat. It is important you develop tools for the training of trainers to use in training our other administrative officers. We also need to develop training manual, literature to administer the training,” he concluded.
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