By Duncan Mboyah

Kenya has formed a task force to develop regulatory framework towards the adoption of alternative medicine in the mainstream medical sector.

Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Sicily Kariuki says that the health sector is confronted with emergency and re-merging health challenges that require innovative solutions through all stakeholders’ involvement.

“The threat of multiple diseases and our vulnerability to health risks have both risen hence calling for intervention from the alternative medicine as well,”  Dr Kariuki said while opening the eighth Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) annual scientific and health conference.

She said that the task force that will be headed by KEMRI, renowned health research institute in Africa, will look at research findings on alternative medicine with the aim of incorporating them into the mainstream health sector. “We need to embrace alternative medicine and benefit from it just as China has done in the recent past,” she added.

Dr Kariuki noted that with the changing climate, the rising failure of antimicrobials and the rise of chronic Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the health sector may be slow.

The CS called on developing countries to invest in health facilities to help prevent diseases since majority of the diseases are preventable. “Traditional diseases, inequality in health, faster aging of populations, movement of people across borders and lifestyles are creating new problems,” she added.

She emphasized collaboration with countries that have made greater strides in incorporating alternative medicine alongside conventional medicine.The task force will propose a regulatory framework in the industry that will include regulating and registration of herbalists. KEMRI has conducted a number of alternatives towards the management of malaria in the country.

“We are committed to enhancing research related productivity by harnessing initiatives to enrich the research culture, capacity building and community involvement,” Acting KEMRI Director General Dr Yeri Kombe said. KEMRI is in process of availing state of the art diagnostic capacity to all health providers countrywide to enhance their research and diseases outbreak response capacity, Dr Kombe said.

The three day conference, whose theme is health research for sustainable development, is being attended by over 400 local and international biomedical researchers. The presentations include 147 research papers.

The 2018 KEMRI Annual Scientific and Health (KASH) conference also included a Pre-Conference Training Workshop on Solution Journalism that was attended by 30 journalists from Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The training was conducted by the US based Solution Journalism Network (SJN).