CDC in Kenya

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For 40 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has helped strengthen public health and laboratory systems in Kenya, creating an integrated research and program center. This model ties together multiple program areas, leveraging technical skills and a strong partnership with the Government of Kenya to build sustainable public health capacity. CDC also plays a key role in the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, and the Global Health Security Agenda.

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The first case of COVID-19 in Kenya was confirmed on March 12, 2020. Since the pandemic was declared, CDC implemented a broad and proactive global public health response to prepare, detect, and respond to COVID-19. CDC’s 42-year presence in Kenya provided foundational surveillance and laboratory platforms that were adapted to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC programs and ongoing U.S. Government (USG) investments strengthen the Government of Kenya’s response to COVID-19. CDC Kenya’s 37-person COVID-19 Team provides hands-on, frontline expertise, financial support, and capacity building in Kenya.

  • Using health security funding, CDC Kenya helped support Kenya’s first public health Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC Kenya’s team introduced county health officials to the Incident Management System, an internationally recognized model for responding to emergencies. Through COVID-19 funding, CDC Kenya supported the installation of 17 county EOCs, which cover 48% of the population, and an EOC within Kenya Prisons Services.
  • CDC-supported Kenya Medical Research Institute’s (KEMRI) laboratories serve as two of the five labs in the country capable of sequencing samples to determine COVID-19 variants. The laboratories support the sequencing of samples from surveillance platforms and routine testing. Kenya laboratories support other countries in the region. Through March 2022, the KEMRI-CDC partnership has released 18 policy briefs describing sequencing results.
  • On February 1, 2022, CDC and the KEMRI Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR) launched Sanofi’s COVID-19 vaccine trial at the Kisumu Clinical Research Site. This is the first global efficacy trial of the Sanofi vaccine which aims to enroll more than 10,000 participants globally.
  • The CDC-supported Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), strengthens skills of the lab workforce. CDC Kenya and FELTP residents go into communities, hospitals, refugee camps, and border areas to help find cases, document outbreaks, and implement control strategies and risk communication.
    In support of the national COVID-19 response, FELTP has deployed over 40 residents throughout Kenya to assist with contact tracing, border surveillance, data visualization, and cluster control.
  • CDC Kenya helped port health authorities fulfill International Health Regulations core capacity requirements at more than 20 points of entry.
  • For most of the epidemic, CDC Kenya has supported nearly half of all COVID-19 testing in Kenya.
  • CDC Kenya helped develop handwashing stations and education materials to stop COVID-19. More than 30 handwashing stations were built in schools, five in healthcare facilities, and 60 were installed in strategic community settings like public markets.

COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Through March 2022, Kenya received more than 10 million vaccines from the USG via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative, accounting for 39% of all vaccines donated to Kenya.
  • As of March 2022, Kenya had administered over 17.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses across the country with 29.5% of all eligible adults being fully vaccinated (~8 million eligible adults).
  • CDC and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) support counties to accelerate vaccine delivery. In Kisumu the USG partners supported an accelerated COVID-19 vaccine drive, after health officials identified nearly 15,000 vaccines at risk of expiring. The demand exceeded supply and Kisumu had to borrow 6,000 additional doses from a neighboring county.
  • Based on lessons learned in Kisumu, CDC launched COVID-19 vaccination outreach support in five additional counties. Within the first month of the project, over 85,000 people were fully vaccinated, and in February, all counties exceeded their target. This outreach model will be expanded to additional counties in April 2022.

CDC Areas of Focus

CDC works in partnership with the Government of Kenya (GOK) to build sustainable public health capacities by focusing on:

Conducting Research on the Effectiveness of New Interventions

  • Preventing disease and reducing death through implementation of evidence-based public health programs.

Developing Surveillance and Health Information Systems

  • Supporting the development and implementation of population and facility-based disease surveillance systems to assess disease burden in communities, identify outbreaks, and evaluate the impact of health interventions.
  • Spearheading state-of-the-art and mobile data collection systems.

Building Public Health Workforce Capacity

  • Training future public health leaders in clinical, laboratory, public health science, program management, and leadership competencies.

Strengthening Laboratory Systems

  • Building the critical laboratory network necessary to assure health security.

Improving Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities

  • Strengthening the ability to rapidly detect and contain infectious disease threats as well as respond to natural and man-made disasters.

Conducting Research to Inform Policy and Practice

  • Partnering with stakeholders, including the National Institutes of Health, on clinical trials and evaluating new vaccines, diagnostics, and prevention strategies.
  • Collaborating with partners in Kenya and globally to use evidence gained through research to develop and implement effective public health policies applicable to low resource settings.

Implementing, Monitoring and Evaluating Evidence-based Programs

  • Evaluating, implementing, and scaling up proven approaches to achieve largescale and demonstrable reductions in morbidity and mortality.

CDC Program Support

Global HIV & TB

Global HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) Program supports the GOK’s efforts to expand and strengthen national HIV prevention, care, treatment, and surveillance by providing technical and financial support through U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

  • HIV Prevention programs support best practices among partners who offer HIV testing and counseling, voluntary medical male circumcision, evidence-based behavioral interventions, and prevention programs for key populations at high risk for HIV.
  • HIV Care and Treatment helps thousands of Kenyans living with HIV to receive care and treatment, including services for pregnant women and mothers with HIV to reduce risk of mother-to-child transmission.
  • Health Systems and Evaluation strengthens health systems and promotes quality of data, programs and scientific dissemination to advance Kenya’s national HIV response.
  • Surveillance and Epidemiology provides expert guidance in implementing HIV surveillance and conducting research to improve programs and inform HIV policy.
  • Laboratory, Blood Safety, and Infection Control focuses on improving the accessibility and quality of laboratory services and reducing the risk of HIV infection through improved blood safety and infection control practices in healthcare and laboratory facilities

More than 630,000 people on antiretroviral treatment (ART), representing an 81% achievement rate against the 2018 target to treat 780,000 people.


More than 400,000 pregnant women know their HIV status due to testing by CDC-supported sites. Of those who tested positive, 99% are on HIV treatment.


Nearly all HIV-infected TB patients treated in CDC-supported sites were on ART during TB treatment.

Global Health Security

Global Health Security Programs support efforts to protect the public’s health by conducting science to better understand emerging health threats and their prevention, thereby strengthening Kenya’s ability to rapidly detect and respond to disease outbreaks and other health threats. Additionally, CDC oversees the planning for and quality of medical screening of US-bound immigrants and refugees.

  • Global Migration and Health Program works with local and international partners to reduce morbidity and mortality among migrant populations, including refugees resettling to the United States.
  • Influenza Program supports surveillance to detect new influenza strains, monitor risk factors for severe disease associated with influenza virus infections, and evaluate new diagnostic, treatment, and prevention strategies.
  • Diagnostics and Laboratory Systems Program helps develop enhanced state-of-the-art diagnostic capacity to process and test for infectious diseases.
  • Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program has trained hundreds of future global health leaders with basic, intermediate and advanced skills in epidemiology and laboratory management.
  • Integrated Human-Animal Health Program promotes a “one health” approach involving human, animal, and environmental health experts to address epidemic threats.
  • Risk Communication and Emergency Response Program works with first responders, humanitarian organizations, and the GOK to provide technical support on emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and risk communication.
  • Global Immunization Program assists GOK in developing national policies, strategies, actions plans, and implementing projects to prevent and control vaccine preventable diseases. CDC continues to focus on maintaining polio-free status, achieving measles elimination and rubella control, and supporting immunization priorities of the Global Health Security Agenda.

25 outbreak investigations supported across the country.


52% of outbreaks received laboratory support.


The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative provides a CDC resident advisor as part of an interagency team with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to design, implement, and evaluate key malaria prevention and control activities in close coordination with the GOK and other partners.


More than 3.6 million people protected from malaria through the distribution of 1.8M bed nets, spraying of 212,000 houses with insecticide, and provision of 850,000 doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine to protect pregnant women, and providing 8M diagnostic tests.

Western Kenya Programs

Western Kenya Programs are implemented in close collaboration with host nation research institutions. This collaboration of 40 years is CDC’s flagship international research site, and has developed into a sophisticated and comprehensive platform for scientific study and service delivery particularly in the fields of HIV, TB, malaria and other communicable diseases. This platform attracts research projects and significant funding from academic institutions, the National Institutes of Health, and non-governmental organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


250,000 people are part of a health and demographic surveillance system that collects information every six months in Siaya County, western Kenya.

CDC Staff in Kenya
  • 36 U.S. Assignees
  • 149 Locally Employed
Kenya at a Glance
  • Population: 49,699,862 (2017)
  • Per capita income: $3,250
  • Life expectancy at birth: F 69/M 65 years
  • Infant mortality rate: 36/1,000 live births

Sources: World Bank 2018, Kenya
Population Reference Bureau 2018, Kenya

Kenya Top 10 Causes of Death
  2. Lower respiratory infections
  3. Diarrheal diseases
  4. Neonatal disorders
  5. Tuberculosis
  6. lschemic heart disease
  7. Stroke
  8. Cirrhosis
  9. Diabetes
  10. Congenital defects

Source: GBD Compare 2018, Kenya

Page last reviewed: March 31, 2022
Content source: Global Health