University unveils Sh69 million herbal laboratory
A new research centre for herbal and traditional medicine established at Kenyatta University has been praised as a breakthrough in the non-conventional treatment of diseases.
National Phytotherapeutics Research Centre (PRC) will train university students and staff, as well as traditional medicine practitioners, and test the efficacy of their drugs in treating ailments.
Speaking during the commissioning of the Sh69 million laboratory funded by the National Research Fund, Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor Paul Wainaina said it is the only facility of its kind in Kenya and will be used by other universities to train their staff and students.
“The equipment in this lab is very advanced and can detect the elements in a herbal solution, such as the amount of potassium, zinc or iron, which our scientists can then use to help in treatment,” said Prof Wainaina.
He added that the project will help remove the stigma that some Kenyans associate herbal treatment with, as many still term it as witchcraft.
“The centre will be open to the public. Our herbal practitioners will be encouraged to bring their products for testing. It is a breakthrough in traditional medicine research,” stated Prof Wainaina.
The centre director, Prof Nicholas Gikonyo, said the facility would focus more on original medicine from plants, and would aim at working with traditional medicine practitioners to discover new drugs.
“We want to reassure Kenyans that what was lost a long time ago during the colonial times when our medicine was demonised — that now we have a lab that can test their quality and efficacy,” Gikonyo added.
The centre will be receiving samples for analysis and also offering internship opportunities to students.