UON Faculty of Science & Technology held a Summer School Symposium from 31st August to 4th November 2022 at the Confucius Institute and also online. The theme for this year’s Summer School was Phytomedicine-from the bush to the Shelf’

The summer program was a joint collaboration between The Natural Products Research Network for Eastern and Central Africa (NAPRECA) Egypt & Kenya and Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH).

NAPRECA was conceived by East and Central African scientists who attended the 14th International Symposium on the Chemistry of Natural Products in 1984 in Poland with 13 member countries in 1988.  Whereas COMSTECH is one of four standing committees of the Organization dedicated to the promotion and cooperation of science and technology activities among the OIC- Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member states.

The event was graced by H.E. Saqlain Syedah The High commission of Pakistan to Kenya. H.E. Saqlain expressed her extreme pleasure to inaugurate the summer school by NAPRECA- COMSTECH Kenya n Egypt chapters.  She noted ‘’It is heartening to see participation from 22 OIC members in person and virtually and participants from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso Iraq, Malaysia Uganda among others partner nations and across the globe.  Her Excellency acknowledged the commitment of the Embassy of Pakistan to enable COMSTECH and other member states to such endeavor which involve exchange of research materials and ideas and knowledge development of academic programs, support for distance learning courses, organizations of joining research programs, organisation of joint conferences in areas of research and mutual interest. She also congratulated NAPRECA- COMSTECH and UON for being the catalyst to making such an important symposium happen and the successful outcome of it.

The Associate Vice- Chancellor, Research innovation and Enterprise was represented by Prof. Munyoki the Director of Research. He expressed his gratitude to all the participants and organizers for organizing such a symposium. ‘’We are happy as a university when we have such engagements. We are just settling down from research week and a lot of quality papers were presented on various topical issues that affect our society daily ‘’. He also noted the world today is experiencing a lot of challenges; food insecurity, health, covid 19 and hence the need for solutions and for researchers to come together and help come with up with solutions that will not only help Kenya but world too.

Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, Director, The International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) & Coordinator General, COMSTECH briefly highlighted on ICCBS as the UNESCO center in Karachi, Pakistan and one of the finest research institutions in the developing world in the field of natural products. He also noted of the several NAPRECAS that were formed, the only NAPRECA that survived is NAPRECA Africa.  This shows the commitment perseverance and vigor of Africa. The science of natural products is science of sustainability. Plants will be the soul of future health products because they can be produced in any quantity. It is also inclusive. Prof. Iqbal noted the development of synthetic medicine cost approximately 2 billion dollars; this is not inclusive and is extremely expensive and it is not for the poor man’s disease. Poor man’s diseases are not a priority of the pharmaceutical companies because it is a business for money. He implored the participants on investing on the Science of natural products which is science of sustainability, science of inclusiveness science for eco friendliness and science for poor man. Natural products need to be natured and strengthened. There is need to develop products that consistent, safe and effective and that is the only way the dream of producing natural products can be realized.

The Dean (FST) Prof Leonida Kerubo welcomed the participants to this important summer school. She noted the symposium has attracted interesting and high quality presentations from scientists and researchers to share their research outputs and it is through such forums that new partnerships are forged and existing ones cemented and we encourage such partnerships for mutual benefits. She also confirmed the launch of science and engineering complex by end of 2023 which will host 4 centers of excellence intended to transform the way we teach and carry out research. The complex will enable the faculty to work closely with the Faculty of Engineering and the industry to come up with tangible products. The dean also noted the Faulty of Science & technology not only trains our students but also local regional and international partner institutions to acquire knowledge in science and technology in the specified thematic areas offered in different departments and to provide skills in providing solutions to daily challenges.

In conclusion she touched on the research at the faculty ‘’ our previous research outputs focused mainly on publications in peer review journals but recently the focus has been to carry out research that is aimed at developing tangible products or innovations for the benefit of humanity. This is the direction we intend to go and we are encouraging partners willing to walk this journey with us to join us. Furthermore the science technology and innovation policy together with UON strategic plan of 2018 fully supports this. We intend to work more closely with partners like COMSTECH and Heliopolis university of sustainable development who have excelled in this area, towards achieving this goal’’ concluded Prof. Kerubo.

In her welcome remarks the Chair NAPRECA Kenya Dr. Catherine Lukhoba noted that for the first time two member state have organized the summer school; Egypt and Kenya and also partnering with COMSTECH which is a premier institution that conducts natural products research

On his part the Chair NAPRECA Egypt Prof. Sameh F. AbouZid, NAPRECA Egypt noted he was glad to join world class scientists from UNESCO, and ICCBS in the symposium. ‘’there is much to do over the coming years. We need more efficient and effective networks which can contribute to the enhancement of standards of education and research in our countries’’. Said Prof. Sameh F. AbouZid

The Executive Secretary, NAPRECA Prof. Robert Byamukama, welcomed all to the 2022 summer school. He noted it was a special summer school & first of its kind in that it is cohosted by 2 member countries Egypt and Kenya and also the first time partnering COMSTECH . In his remarks, he noted the science of science products can contribute to solving society challenges faced especially in developing countries and natural products advancement can contribute to sustainable health, livelihood and development

There are excellent publications and journal but the question is do we have these products on he shelf in our countries?  The purpose of this summer school is therefore how to motivate the young scientists  to use these skills to save the community using the science of natural products and also earn from it and commercialize it because that is the only way this science can grow. Prof. Robert Byamukama also Thanked Uppsala University for funding the symposium and NAPRECA- COMSTECH for participating and continued working together to advance this science of natural products.

The week-long event featured speakers from across the globe that had one key message: ‘we are the last custodians of nature’.  There is urgent need on developing natural products and protecting intellectual knowledge. Kenya's vision 2030 also recognizes the importance of natural resources including plants with high medicinal, cosmetic and nutritional value. These resources have not been exploited fully and there was a call on the prioritization of setting up sustainable source of raw materials like botanical gardens in order to harness this sector on a commercial scale.

The 20th NAPRECA symposium will be hosted by Zimbabwe 19th-21 September 2023