Kenyatta University has secured funding to establish the country's first National Reference Research Centre for herbal medicine. The infrastructure grant of Ksh69M was awarded by the National Research Fund.
The Center will be utilized by University’s researchers from other institutions and researchers in the country and the region. Phytotherapy is a science-based practice distinguished from other more traditional approaches such as medical herbalism. It is often linked to traditional knowledge.
KU Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainaina said: “Part of Kenyatta University’s efforts have been complementing the funding by putting in place requisite mechanisms to ensure optimal utilization and sustainability of the research facility at our ‘techno-park’. “
With the facility, KU aims at entrenching the role of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in the East Africa region for social and economic development.
Prof. Wainaina said establishment of the centre at will also addresses part of Kenya vision 2030 on commercialization of research and development. The new Centre project targets natural health products and is expected to receive equipment to start running by August this year.
The center will be coordinated by Prof. Nicholas Gikonyo of KU whose area of specialization is pharmacognosy and traditional medicine.
The new center is expected to build a vibrant natural health products industry through development and utilization of an interface between indigenous knowledge and modern science. It will support one of the four pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s plan covering the health sector.
Key areas will include documentation, profiling and securing indigenous knowledge, technologies and associated biological resources, scientific testing and validation. This is expected to yield locally derived natural health products.
Some of the challenges to be addressed by the facility will include lack of a functional herbal medicine development facility in the region, lack of a quality assurance facility and equipment for up-scaling innovative herbal products for commercialization and licensing.
In addition, it will seek answers to the existing gap on innovations without intellectual property rights, and the many patents that are yet to be converted into viable commercial products.