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Kenya’s Coronavirus Pandemic Testing Capability Receives Boost From The International Atomic Energy Agency

Kenya’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has received a big boost with the delivery of medical equipment worth 20 million shillings from the International Atomic Energy Agency, conveyed through the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA).

The diagnostic kits and equipment will contribute to the rapid detection and characterization of COVID-19 viruses. The capacity of the equipment is sufficient for approximately testing 2,000 samples per day. The package comprises: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the operators during sampling, sample processing and testing; Equipment for establishment/upgrade of molecular diagnostics including a thermocycler; as well as diagnostic kit for the detection of the novel coronavirus using three nuclear-derived techniques.

“This equipment which is now already in use can test samples and provide results within a couple of hours. It will also help in diagnosis of other viral diseases beyond COVID-19,” said Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter.

The medical equipment uses nuclear-derived techniques which demonstrates the efficacy of the technology in a broad range of sectors.

“Nuclear technology is not only used in electricity generation but also in Agriculture, Health, Industry, Mining, Research, Water among others. We are working closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency to support and enhance collaboration,” said Nuclear Power and Energy Agency Chairman Ezra Odhiambo.

Receiving the equipment, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Mercy Mwangangi lauded the Ministry of Energy, and in particular the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency, which is the National Liaison Office for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Kenya for facilitating and coordinating the donation.

“It is a state of the art machine that is able to do PCR – polymerase chain reaction – testing and this means this machine will go a long way beyond testing for coronavirus. It is a machine that we will later use post-covid for testing HIV especially in children,” said Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi.

The equipment has been deployed at the Kenyatta National Hospital and has significantly boosted the country’s capacity for diagnostics of COVID-19.

Among other top officials who attended the ceremomy were Energy Principal Secretary Dr. Eng Joseph Njoroge, NuPEA CEO Eng. Collins Juma who is also the IAEA National Liaison Officer, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) Board Chairman Dr. George Ooko and KNH CEO Dr. Evanson Kamuri.

Kenya is among more than a dozen countries drawn from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean that had requested assistance with the diagnostic technique, known as Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) for COVID-19 testing.