Dutch Special Ambassador Visits KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research

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Mr. Lambert Grijns (Second from Left) is the Dutch Special Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) & HIV/AIDS as well as the Director of the Social Development Department.


The air hang heavy with heat on Friday the 2nd of December at the KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) University of Nairobi College of Health Science meeting room, where staff members and one PhD student sat anticipating a visit by Lambert Grijns.

Mr. Grijns wears many hats. He is the Dutch Special Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) & HIV/AIDS as well as the Director of the Social Development Department, both at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is also a high-level task force member of the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD).

He arrived with representatives from the regional international AIDS vaccine initiative (IAVI) office. The IAVI team included: Dr. Anatoli Kamali – Regional Director Africa, Dr. Daniel Ochiel – Director of African Laboratory Programs and Dr. Kundai Chinyenze – Medical Director, Medical Affairs.

Prof. Omu Anazala, the Director of KAVI-ICR welcomed the attendees and proceeded to deliver a brief presentation on the institute’s current and past activities. He outlined the history of KAVI-ICR – how the initiative began in 1999 with fewer than 10 people and grew into the institute of clinical research it is today, with 3 clinical research sites and 72 members of staff.

He explained that apart from the growth of the number of people working at KAVI-ICR, the scope of research has also expanded tremendously since its inception, when it was only involved in conducting HIV vaccine clinical trials. Presently, KAVI-ICR’s portfolio displays work and research in communicable diseases such as ebola and tuberculosis, stem cells, zoonoses, non-communicable diseases, PhD training and knowledge translation.

Speaking of KAVI-ICR’s strong community engagement, Prof. Anzala said, “We were called upon to carry out the ebola vaccine trials, something that people were afraid would not work due to a lack of volunteers. Because of our active links, we had no issues with the recruitment of participants.”

Achievements in KAVI-ICR’s clinical trials include more participation, shorter time to recruit volunteers, greater retention of volunteers and an increase in the percent of female volunteers.  These were attributed to excellent community engagement.

After the presentation, the floor was opened for questions and comments. Mr. Grijns – who studied Human Geography, holds an MA in Spatial Planning and has carried out research in Integrated Water Management and International River Basin Administration – noted that he was impressed at the strides KAVI-ICR had made since 1999.

Stimulating questions about the technicalities of vaccine trials, regulations of carrying out clinical research and the shifting environment of foreign donors were posed. Mr. Grijns pointed out that because Kenya had achieved middle-income-country status, there may be sentiments among foreign donors that it is time the Kenyan government took up the mantle.


KAVI Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR)

College of Health Sciences

University of Nairobi

P.O. Box 19676 - 00202




Telephone: +254-20-2717694/2725404


Mobile: +254-722-207417


Fax: +254-20-2714613


E-mail: kavi@kaviuon.org


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