Public Health Buildings Unveiling

United States and Kenya Unveil New National Public Health Buildings and Institute

The Ministry of Health announces a new National Public Health Institute and showcases a $9M USD investment in laboratory and office buildings by U.S. PEPFAR program

Today, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec joined Kenyan Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia in the unveiling of two new national public health buildings: the Ministry of Health’s Afya House Annex for HIV and tuberculosis (TB) programs and the National Public Health Reference Laboratories building. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provided $9 million [900 million Shillings] to fund this initiative. During the event, Cabinet Secretary Macharia also announced the establishment of Kenya’s new National Public Health Institute (NPHI).

For over 51 years, the U.S. and Kenyan Governments have collaborated on initiatives focused on ensuring the health and safety of the Kenyan people. To establish and manage a sustainable, integrated system for addressing the HIV epidemic, the Ministry of Health has worked with PEPFAR to implement an integrated management and administration system, and develop an internationally recognized laboratory infrastructure.

The new buildings provided by PEPFAR have helped make the NPHI possible by freeing up space in the former HIV and TB buildings. This will allow the Ministry of Health to bring the NPHI-related units together under one roof at the Ministry’s Kenyatta National Hospital campus, with plans to establish its first Emergency Operations Center at the same site.

About Afya House Annex and the National Public Health Reference Laboratories Building

Prior to the construction of the Afya House Annex, the various Kenyan Ministry of Health units supporting HIV and TB programs were housed in separate buildings and lacked adequate space for staff. Additionally, infrastructure to support national laboratory testing and quality assurance activities was limited and lacked adequate biosafety facilities.

Kenya is a leading innovator amongst all PEPFAR countries, with over 740,000 people living with HIV receiving treatment and 6.5 million HIV tests being administered in 2014 alone. However, with success comes significantly increased demand on Kenya’s HIV and TB programs.

“Because of Kenya’s demonstrated leadership in public health in Africa, the United States has made significant long-term investments to expand the capacity of Kenya’s national-level health and laboratory systems.” according to Ambassador Godec.

The National Public Health Reference Laboratories building will include Biosafety Level 3 laboratories – the first for the Ministry — which are capable of supporting diagnosis of multi-drug resistant TB and other highly-pathogenic agents, such as Ebola.

About NPHI

The new NPHI will bring together various public health activities to ensure the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks. The NPHI will also support Kenya’s ability to implement the minimum capacity requirements set out in the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, and enhance external partnerships for public health in Kenya, such as the U.S.-supported Global Health Security Agenda. Activities of the NPHI will include the evaluation of population health status, public health disease surveillance, public health research, and disease investigation and control.

“Concentrating public health work within an NPHI will strengthen public health work in Kenya, increase efficiency and accountability, and enhance the visibility of public health,” according to Cabinet Secretary Macharia.

NPHI core functions will be aligned within the Department of Preventive and Promotive Health (DPPH). NPHI-related DPPH units will include the Division of Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Response, the Division of National Public Health Laboratory Services, the Field Epidemiology Laboratory Training Program, and the Emergency Preparedness Response Unit.

These core functions have been enhanced through training, technical support, and investment from several United States Government departments and agencies with public health program and research expertise, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Department of Defense. With support from the International Association of National Public Health Institutes and the CDC, Ministry of Health staff have participated in NPHI-related trainings and meetings to learn from other NPHIs.

For further information, contact: Nadine Sunderland, Health Communication Specialist Division of Global HIV/AIDS, CDC – Kenya Tel: +254-724-256-806 / Email:

Remarks by Ambassador Robert F. Godec — As Delivered Cabinet Secretary James Macharia,Waziri, Waheshima, Mabibi na mabwana,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Hamjambo! Habari zenu?

Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today for this long-anticipated event. The United States has collaborated with Kenya now for over 50 years, since independence, on helping to improve the health and wellbeing of the Kenyan people. These buildings represent and further strengthen the foundations of our relationship with Kenya and the sustained modernization of the Kenya Ministry of Health.

Hippocrates, the founder of the modern practice of medicine, wrote, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Today we inaugurate facilities that greatly expand this opportunity to heal in Kenya. Today we further ensure that Kenya has the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to a broad range of diseases that threaten the health of its people. Today we reaffirm the partnership between the United States and Kenya to work together on urgent matters of public health in Kenya, in Africa, and around the world.

We have seen significant investments in health since 2004, in part through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – PEPFAR. This unprecedented program has helped us tackle HIV and TB and to work together with the Kenyan Government to transform its national and county-level health and laboratory systems. We have also seen extraordinary leadership and dedication from public health staff in the Ministry and in the many health facilities around the country.

Our colleagues in PEPFAR and the agencies that support this program – including the CDC, USAID, Department of Defense, and Peace Corps- can attest that, when they meet in Washington, D.C., or in regional meetings around the African continent – Kenya is often cited as an innovator among all the PEPFAR countries. Kenya is one of PEPFAR’s biggest success stories and has distinguished itself as a global leader in tackling the HIV crisis through a robust response.

Because of Kenya’s demonstrated leadership in public health in Africa, the United States has made significant long-term investments to expand the capacity of Kenya’s national-level health and laboratory systems. Today’s inauguration represents an investment of over KSh900 million to construct and furnish the Afya House Annex and National Public Health Reference Laboratories.

These facilities will greatly increase the capacity of Kenya’s laboratory systems. In 2014, PEPFAR supported more than 740,000 people living with HIV in Kenya with antiretroviral therapy and another 6.5 million people that were tested for HIV. These numbers demonstrate an extraordinary amount of work on the part of Kenya’s public health staff and a significant demand on the country’s laboratories. Each patient who begins HIV treatment requires multiple tests that the laboratory system has to run and manage indefinitely. These new facilities help to meet the demands of HIV treatment and clinical lab work.

These facilities also address the need to have close collaboration among the HIV and tuberculosis programs, since TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. The Afya House Annex brings HIV and TB facilities together under one roof, which will enable them to work together more effectively and will save countless lives.

Finally, this building will house the Ministry’s first Biosafety Level 3 laboratories, which will help Kenya address emerging diseases in Africa, such as dengue and Ebola. This capacity will allow Kenya to further its role as a leader in public health in Africa, in critical areas at the frontier of epidemiology.

Disease transcends national borders, tribe, and politics. When we work together to fight diseases like HIV, polio, and cholera, we protect all Kenyans, we protect Africa, we protect the world. And when we work together to address other threats to our health and wellbeing, including non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes, we bolster the societies and economies of Kenya and our partner nations.

Just three weeks ago, we hosted a historic visit from President Barack Obama. During the visit, the President had some important words to say about our collaboration on health security. He said, “…across Africa, Kenya, and the United States, we’ll keep working to strengthen public health systems and deal with outbreaks of diseases before they become epidemics…Together we can save lives.”

Today we are fulfilling this promise to save lives. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Government of Kenya to establish strong public health institutions that will transform its health systems and ensure Kenya can address both the challenges of today and those of tomorrow.

U.S. Embassy Information / Press Office Telephone: +254 20 363-6000 e-mail: Webpage: U.S.EmbassyNairobi: @USEmbassyKenya (Information/Press Office) @BobGodec (U.S. Ambassador Robert F. Godec)