These are diseases resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic agents that include bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and prions in an individual host. Infectious diseases currently under study include HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, zoonotic diseases, childhood respiratory and diarrheal diseases. Communicable diseases studies at the KAVI Clinical Research Institute are primarily focused on both cutting-edge laboratory-based research and supplemented by field-based studies of epidemiological and ecological aspects of infectious disease transmission and control. Our research explores basic pathogenic mechanisms that may lead to better diagnostic tools, the development of vaccines and other interventions for prevention and control of infection and disease, and the identification of new targets for antiviral and antiparasitic drugs.
Non-Communicable diseases or NCDs, are diseases which by definition are non-infectious and non-transmissible between persons. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports NCDs to be the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing over 60% of all deaths. They include cardiovascular diseases, Cancers, Diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer's disease, chronic respiratory diseases and many more. They are also referred to as a lifestyle disease, because the majority of these diseases are preventable illnesses. The most common causes for NCDs include tobacco use (smoking), alcohol abuse, poor diets (high consumption of sugar, salt, saturated fats, and Trans fatty acids) and physical inactivity. The increasing burden of (NCDs), particularly in Kenya, threatens to overwhelm an already over-stretched health services. KAVI Clinical Research Institute is focusing on cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine and Alzheimer diseases. We are also addressing prostate, esophageal, breast, cervical and colon cancers. Our research activities involve reviewing of the adequacy of existing surveillance data, conducting surveys to determine disease burden, and the establishment of the determinants of the above diseases.
There are two components to this track:
- Conducting clinical trials in addition to HIV trials at the KAVI sites
- Building capacity of other regional sites to conduct clinical trials
Funding for HIV vaccine clinical trials, which is a component of this track, is currently available mainly through the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). There is need to acquire additional funding to conduct more trials in a variety of other priority diseases. KAVI has acquired funding for capacity building through Canada’s Global Health Research Initiative Through various donors, 5 HIV vaccine studies and 1 pre-exposure prophylaxis study have been completed. In addition, bacterial vaginitis, human Papilloma Virus, and HIV vaccine studies are ongoing. In addition to the above responsibilities, this track is responsible for incorporating research on NCDs by nesting clinical trials within the cohorts established by the above track in order to provide short-term results. Randomized drug, vaccine, or behavioral interventions will be implemented based on information generated from preliminary/periodic analyses of the observational studies.
Knowledge translation is the intersection of three important processes: - research, policy, and implementation. It brings the three processes together through a communicative relationship that relies on partnerships, collaboration, and personal contact between researchers and people who use research results. Evidence-based health policy making requires that researchers and potential users of the research work together to set research priorities and use research data to formulate policy. Those involved in the knowledge translation track work very closely with those in other tracks in setting up the research agenda for the institute and in developing strategies that will drive the program to meet its stated objectives. Knowledge utilization and dissemination are key components in the success of this program. For that reason, the following activities have been initiated in the knowledge translation track:
- Develop a website where information on the capacity, the research agenda/priorities, and the activities of the program will be uploaded.
- Develop a newsletter that will be circulated within the health care fraternity. Over time, this newsletter will be a conduit through which study results will be communicated to all stakeholders in health research.
- Raise awareness about the Institute during local and international conferences and workshops
- Conduct a series of awareness workshops facilitated by the existing professional bodies
- Present abstracts at local and international scientific meetings
- Publish research results in peer reviewed journals
- Publish policy statement to be shared with key stakeholders in the Ministry of Health