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MISSUE NO. 3616 

April 19 - 24, 2013

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

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German firm enlists African
university students in diabetes war

universities in Africa are well placed to advance research
and development of new drugs to treat diabetes

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- German Pharmaceutical giant Merck through its biopharmaceutical division, Merck Serono, has rolled out a training program targeting students in Kenya, Uganda and Namibia to boost their skills in diabetes prevention and management.

According to a statement released on Wednesday, the three-year diabetes capacity advancement program targets 1000 medical students from university of Nairobi alongside select students from Makerere and University of Namibia.

“The rising toll of diabetics all over the world necessitates the urgency to prioritize care and awareness to prevent the disease from turning into a national epidemic. Through the leadership, faculty members and students in the universities, this program will seek to improve the healthcare sector throughout Africa,” Merck Serono CEO Stefan Oschmann said.

He stressed that universities in Africa are well placed to advance research and development of new drugs to treat diabetes, as the disease spread across the entire population due to lifestyle changes.

The diabetes capacity advanced program will focus on clinical research, supply chain integrity and efficiency, community awareness and pharmaco-vigilance.

Oschmann added that the new program will ensure diabetic people and care givers have access to adequate information on prevention and treatment of this non communicable disease.

“This demonstrates our commitment to long-term partnership for providing quality, affordable and equitable healthcare alongside social-economic development in Africa,” said Oschmann.

Merck Serono has provided a grant to help medical students in Kenya, Uganda and Namibia acquire advanced professional knowledge on diabetes prevention, treatment and management.

According to a statement, the initiative will support the development of educational programs such as accredited clinical diabetes management training for undergraduates in African universities.

“In future, the program will address the medical education for healthcare providers in rural areas,” said the statement.

Universities should be in the frontline in advancing research to boost prevention and cure of lifestyle diseases that have strained healthcare infrastructure in Africa.

The Principal, College of Health Sciences, University of Nairobi, Isaac Kibwage, reiterated that quality research will enrich current interventions to reduce the burden of non communicable diseases in Kenya.

“Nairobi University is ready to support initiatives such as Merck Serono’s capacity advancement program and will link up with other institutions whose overall mission is to combat emerging diseases such as diabetes,” Kibwage said.

He stressed the need to transform health sector in Kenya through research and capacity development alongside uptake of modern technology.

“To achieve sustainable development and vision 2030, there is need to transform the health sector to provide quality, accessible and equitable health care and universities will help achieve this goal,” said Kibwage.

Diabetes has worsened disease burden in Kenya and according to statistics from the ministry of health, 1.6 million Kenyans are currently grappling with diabetes and the figure could rise to 2.5 million by 2050.

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