Kenya, Uganda spared in US health funding cutback

Tuesday February 13 2018

A scientist isolates wild polio virus at Kenya

A scientist isolates wild polio virus at Kenya Medical Research Institute in Nairobi on July 28 2016. Kenya and Uganda have been spared from a US health funding cutback. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA 

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Kenya and Uganda are among 10 countries to be spared funding cuts by US Centres for Disease Control, which which will affect Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo in the region.

The organisation has announced plans to scale back on its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of the 49 countries it operates in.

Already, it has begun notifying staff and officials abroad about the planned cutbacks that begin taking effect in October 2019.

The other countries to be spared are Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Jordan and Guatemala.

But China, Pakistan and Haiti are on the list of countries to suffer funding cuts.

The CDC programmes are part of an initiative known as global health security. They train frontline workers to detect outbreaks and strengthen lab and emergency response systems in countries where risks of disease are greatest.

The goal is to stop future outbreaks at source.


In Kenya, most of the funding from the CDC has been used to build a comprehensive research platform, including research on HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, emerging infections, tropical diseases, and other public health issues.

For instance, a CDC-Kenya Medical Research Institute multi-country study of discordant couples, revealed a 96 per cent reduction in transmission of the virus to their HIV-negative partners when the infected partner was on antiretroviral therapy.

These results have influenced health policy and clinical practice in Kenya and around the world.

Kenya was one of the African countries chosen to conduct a phase III trial on an experimental malaria vaccine (RTS,S/AS01 vaccine candidate) through CDC and Kemri.

Most of the funding for CDC comes from a one-time, five-year emergency package that the US Congress approved to respond to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

About $600 million was awarded to CDC to help countries prevent infectious diseases from becoming epidemics. That money runs out by September 2019.

Reduced funding means there will be less or no research at all and that deaths from diseases will rise and outbreaks will be costlier to treat.

Carolyn Reynolds, a vice president at PATH, a global health technology organisation says that the next phase of work may be at risk should CDC cut back its support.

“It would be akin to building a firehouse without providing trained firemen and information and tools to fight fires,” she said.

— Additional information from The Washington Post

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