Kenya launches rapid diagnostic kits for testing COVID-19, malaria

Kenya’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday launched malaria and COVID-19 PCR diagnostic kits in a bid to boost timely detection and treatment of the two diseases.

Rashid Aman, the chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health, said that the malaria rapid diagnostic kit (PlamoCheck) and the PCR COVID-19 testing kit (KEMCoV PCR) were invented by local researchers.

“The kits that are the first to be produced locally, will save the country and families from importation at a higher price,” Aman said during the diagnostic kits’ launch in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Aman said the malaria diagnostic kits and COVID-19 testing kits made by researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) are already being sold in pharmacies at 60 shillings (about 53 U.S. cents) and 4.4 dollars per pair, respectively.

He said the government will not only support KEMRI with the continued production of these kits, but also purchase the products to ensure continuous research and improvement now and in the future.

Daniel Mbinda, the chairman of the KEMRI board of directors, said that currently, the institution is testing 70 percent of COVID-19 samples in the country, adding that the institution is looking at ways of partnering with the pharmaceutical industry to introduce new products to the local and regional markets.