Research News


The COVID‐19 pandemic has raised important universal public health challenges. Conceiving ethical responses to these challenges is a public health imperative but must take context into account. This is particularly important in sub‐Saharan Africa (SSA). In this paper, we examine how some of the ethical recommendations offered so far in high‐income countries might appear from a SSA perspective. We also reflect on some of the key ethical challenges raised by the COVID‐19 pandemic in low‐income countries suffering from chronic shortages in health care resources, and chronic high morbidity and mortality from non‐COVID‐19 causes. A parallel is drawn between the distribution of severity of COVID‐19 disease and the classic “Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” model that is relevant in SSA. Focusing allocation of resources during COVID‐19 on the ‘thick’ part of the pyramid in Low‐to‐Middle Income Countries (LMICs) could be ethically justified on utilitarian and social justice grounds, since it prioritizes a large number of persons who have been economically and socially marginalized. During the pandemic, importing allocation frameworks focused on the apex of the pyramid from the global north may therefore not always be appropriate. In a post‐COVID‐19 world, we need to think strategically about how health care systems can be financed and structured to ensure broad access to adequate health care for all who need it. The root problems underlying health inequity, exposed by COVID‐19, must be addressed, not just to prepare for the next pandemic, but to care for people in resource poor settings in non‐pandemic times.

Click here to get full article.

The University of Nairobi (UoN) has partnered with the Washington State University (WSU) in a bid to strengthen research and study on infectious diseases such as the Rift Valley fever and Covid-19.

These diseases, medically termed as zoonotic diseases, are transmitted from animals to humans. They have devastated populations all around the world, having far worse effects on humans than animals.

The two research institutions hope to improve the quality of research of the diseases and stop them from becoming pandemics.

Read more details here.

Watch video

Scholars from the University of Nairobi conducted research on Zika virus in Kenya.

The study titled: Seroprevalence of Zika virus in selected regions in Kenya was conducted by Bramuel Kisuyaa, Moses M. Masika, Esto Bahizirea, and Julius O. Oyugi.

The study endeavoured to establish seroprevalence of Zika virus in the selected Kenyan regions namely; Nairobi,Eldoret and Kisumu.

The study's low seroprevalence of Zika virus antibodies(IgG) agreed with similar studies recently conducted in Sudan,Ethiopia and Uganda.

The studied population had low preexisting immunity to zika virus.
It was established that Zika virus is a re-emerging virus with skewed seroprevalence data not only in Kenya, but also in most countries in the world.

Author: Bramuel Kisuya
A Kenyan born possessing first class honours degree in Biology (2013), and MSc Medical Microbiology(2019) - University of Nairobi.
Ambitious to dive into groundbreaking medical research that shall offer sustainable solutions to healthcare problems pressing human kind.

Click here to access research publication.

Recent findings indicate that the reasons as to why there is a surge in numbers of gout and hyperuricemia in Africa include the adoption of western lifestyle, higher socio-economic status, male sex and excess alcohol consumption.

It is outlined further that the contributions are from the rising number of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

A review titled: Defining gout and hyperuricemia in sub-Saharan Africa by Prof. George Oyoo and EK Genga gives details on gout in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the review, there are many challenges Africa is facing including limited financial resources, misuse of finances, malnutrition, poor water and sanitation amongst others.

It states that the available health care resources are overburdened by the high burden of communicable diseases and the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases therefore Rheumatic diseases are not considered a high priority by the various African governments. This is compounded by the low numbers of rheumatologists working across the continent.

The recommended numbers should be one per 100,000 people as per WHO standards. Thus, there is paucity of epidemiological data on rheumatic diseases, gout included. It is reported that gout is the 3rd most common arthritis in Africa after osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

HIV has changed the landscape of gout with case reports of protease inhibitor associated gout. Gout is also reported as the third most common inflammatory arthritis after rheumatoid arthritis and HIV associated spondylo-arthropathy. Gout and hyperuricemia are predominantly seen in male Africans above the age of 50 years.

The male to female ratio ranges from 3.3:1 to as high as 19:15-11.Time to diagnosis is still too long. Mijinyawa recorded a mean duration of 8 years before diagnosis was made. Other studies found that it took the patients about 3-4 years before the diagnosis was made. Reasons for this delay include poor medical resources and a low index of suspicion by clinicians.

Click here to access the publication.

A study carried out in 2016 and its findings published in 2019 indicates that maternal mortality after caesarean delivery in Africa is 50 times higher than that of high-income countries.

According to the findings, the deaths are caused by peripartum haemorrhage and anaesthesia complications.

The findings also show that neonatal mortality is double the global average.

The study titled: Maternal and neonatal outcomes after caesarean delivery in the African Surgical Outcomes Study: a 7-day prospective observational cohort study was carried out by a number of researchers among them Prof. RZipporah Ngumi from the University of Nairobi Department of Anaesthesia.

It recommends the need for early identification and appropriate management of mothers at risk of peripartum haemorrhage inorder to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes in Africa.

The study which was funded by Medical Research Council of South Africa recruited more than 3,000 patients between February and May, 2016 in hospitals across Africa.

Click here to access the study.

Employed mothers in Kenya are not able to exclusively breastfeed their new born babies for the required 6 months period.

According to a study carried out by several researchers among them Prof. Ruth Nduati from the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of Nairobi, the mothers stop exclusive breastfeeding in preparation for their return to work.

The study titled: Influences of Exclusive Breastfeeding Among Low-wage, Working Mothers in Kenya: Perspectives from Managers, Healthcare Providers, Daycare Directors, Mothers, and Fathers (OR30-02-19) was carried out in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

According to the findings of the study, husbands of women who are employed fully support exclusive breastfeeding and would like to see its period prolonged.

Breastfeeding mothers are given flexible work schedules and duties by their managers while a small number of farms or hotels have places designated for lactating mothers.

It was also noted that most breastfeeding mothers prefer to arrive later or leave early rather than visit children to feed during the workday.

The study can be accessed here.

Study carried out between 2008 and 2012 reveals the top 5 cancers at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH).

The study titled: Cancer in Kenya: types and infection-attributable. Data from the adult population of two National referral hospitals (2008-2012) was carried out by a young scientist from the University of Nairobi, Lucy Macharia, Dr. Marianne Mureithi and Prof. Omu Anzala, also from UoN.

The findings of the study indicated that in KNH, the top five cancers were: cervical breast, colorectal, chronic leukemia and stomach cancer while in MTRH, the five common types of cancers were Kaposi’s sarcoma breast, cervical, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and colorectal, chronic leukemia and esophageal cancer.

This study provided data on common types and trends of cancer and demonstrated that cancers associated with infectious agents contribute to the high burden of cancer in Kenya.

Strategies enforcing the use of preventive measures such as increased awareness, vaccination, early and regular screening and treatment should be enforced as majority of these cancers can be prevented with the control of the infectious agent.

Future studies need to ascertain that a given cancer is specifically caused by an infectious agent.

Click here to access the study

About the lead Author:

Lucy Macharia: PhD Candidate /Research Assistant

Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ms. Macharia is a young scientist from the School of Medicine, University of Nairobi selected to join a Prestigious mentee program of the African Academy of Sciences – (AESA’s-STEM program) through which by its collaboration with the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, gave her the opportunity to pursue her PhD in cancer research at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro under the supervision of Professor Vivaldo Moura-Neto.

Findings from a HIV mortuary surveillance study that was carried out in 2015 and published in 2019 reveal HIV-related deaths in Nairobi.

The researchers from the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences and other institutions sought to describe HIV among deaths using a novel mortuary-based approach in Nairobi.

The study was carried out on cadavers aged 15 years and older at both Kenyatta National Hospital and City mortuaries in the month of January and March, 2015.

Cause of death was obtained from medical records and death notification forms.

During the study cardiac blood was drawn and tested for HIV infection using the national HIV testing algorithm followed by viral load testing of HIV positive samples.

Results indicated that of 807 eligible cadavers, 610 had an HIV test result available.

It was noted that HIV prevalence was significantly higher among women than men according to the study.

The study also revealed that half of HIV-infected cadavers had no diagnosis before death, and an additional 22.2% were only diagnosed during hospitalization leading to death.

The research was carried out by Lilly M Nyagah, Peter W Young, Andrea A Kim, Joyce Wamicwe, Maureen Kimani, Wanjiru Waruiru, Emily Rogena, Johansen Oduor, Edwin Walong, Anthony Waruru, Julius Oyugi, Marie Downer, Kevin M De Cock, Martin Sirengo.

Click here to access the research and its findings.

Did you get a chance to visit the 5th Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) Exhibition? If not, then you missed one of the greatest stages put up to showcase innovations in the country. The Innovation Exhibition was the hub around which the numerous events constituting the Nairobi Innovation Week 2019 revolved.

In what is expected to be one of the biggest research events in the country, the Second Edition of the University of Nairobi Research Week shall be held from October 22-25, 2019. The Research Week shall feature a series of conferences, workshops and seminars across a broad array of disciplines. The event has 13 confirmed conferences and 2 seminars.