CDC in Kenya

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For more than 40 years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has helped strengthen Kenya’s public health and laboratory systems and operate an integrated research center. CDC Kenya helps implement the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).

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The first case of COVID-19 in Kenya was confirmed on March 12, 2020. CDC provided surveillance and laboratory platforms that were adapted to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. U.S. government investments, through CDC, strengthened the Government of Kenya’s COVID-19 response. CDC Kenya’s COVID-19 Team provided hands-on frontline expertise, financial support, and training in the following ways:

  • Helped Kenya expand the National Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC), established in 2013. This allows Kenya to better coordinate the response, share data, and identify response gaps.
  • CDC supports the Kenya Medical Research Institute’s (KEMRI). Two of KEMRI’s laboratories are part of a five-laboratory network that can sequence SARS-CoV-2.
  • Leveraged population-based infectious disease surveillance, integrated health facility-based surveillance, and sentinel influenza surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 testing that continues to provide timely COVID-19 information.
  • 40 residents of the CDC-supported Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) deployed to more than 20 counties as part of the COVID-19 response. They assist with contact tracing, hotline reporting, border surveillance, data visualization, risk communication, and cluster control.
  • CDC Kenya helped start FELTP Frontline programs in Somalia and Djibouti through COVID-19 regional workforce development.
  • CDC worked with Kenya port health authorities to detect, assess, notify and report events, and respond to public health risks and emergencies. Work was done at more than 20 points of entry such as airports, land borders, and ports.

COVID-19 Vaccines

  • Kenya received more than 12 million vaccines from the U.S. Government via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative through August 2022. This represents 43% of all vaccines donated to the country. As of September 7, 2022, Kenya had administered more than 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses across the country. This means almost 35% of all eligible adults were fully vaccinated.
  • CDC Kenya provided close to $2.5 million to support the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout in 14 counties from March 2021 to July 2022. Through this U.S. government support over 600,000 people were fully vaccinated.

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

CDC supports the Government of Kenya’s efforts to expand and strengthen national HIV prevention, care, treatment, and surveillance. CDC provides technical and financial support through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

  • HIV Prevention works with and funds partners that offer HIV testing and counseling, voluntary medical male circumcision, evidence-based behavioral interventions, and prevention programs for key and priority populations at high risk for HIV.
  • HIV Care and Treatment helps hundreds of thousands of Kenyans 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 improves data quality, 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 and other bloodborne pathogen infections through improved blood safety and infection control practices in healthcare and laboratory facilities.
  • Tuberculosis supports surveillance for multidrug resistant TB and evaluation of novel TB diagnostics.

More than 765,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) on antiretroviral treatment (ART). Of those, 96% have an undetectable HIV viral load which prevents transmission to their loved ones.


Nearly 400,000 pregnant and breastfeeding 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 and more than 85% of PLHIV have received TB preventive treatment

Global Health Security

CDC conducts surveillance to better understand emerging health threats and how to prevent them. This strengthens 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.

  • Diagnostics and Laboratory Systems Program helps develop state-of-the-art diagnostic capacity to process and test for infectious diseases.
  • Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program has trained over 800 future global health leaders with basic, intermediate, and advanced skills in applied epidemiology and laboratory management.
  • Risk Communication and Emergency Response Program provides training and technical support to first responders, humanitarian organizations, and the Government of Kenya
  • Infectious Disease Surveillance Platforms based in 12 facilities and multiple communities serve as sentinel and early warning systems for pathogen detection, seroprevalence estimation, mortality surveillance, and event-based surveillance.

CDC Kenya supports approximately 25 outbreak investigations across the country per year. CDC provides on-site epidemiological support and laboratory support.


CDC-supported laboratories test and confirm approximately 52% of the disease outbreaks in Kenya per year


U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) provides technical assistance as part of an interagency team with USAID to design, implement, and evaluate key malaria prevention and control activities in close coordination with the Government of Kenya and other partners. PMI support has improved malaria prevention and treatment measures in Kenya. Recent household surveys show a reduction in malaria parasite prevalence by nearly 50% over the past decade, both nationwide (11% to 6%) and in the high-burden western lake endemic region, where PMI focuses 70% of its investments (38% in 2010 to 18% in 2020).

CDC’s Malaria and Entomology Branches have collaborated with KEMRI since 1979 to establish one of the premier malaria research field stations in the world. KEMRI is in Western Kenya, an area of persistently high malaria transmission.


PMI contributed to delivery of over 5 million insecticide-treated bed nets, protected 2 million people from malaria with indoor residual spraying, protected over 1 million pregnant women from malaria with preventive treatments, and procured over 3 million malaria treatment doses and 1 million malaria rapid diagnostic tests, from October 2020 – September 2021.

Global Research Hub

Global Research Hub studies are implemented in collaboration with host nation research institutions. This is CDC’s flagship international research site which has developed into a sophisticated and comprehensive platform for scientific study and service delivery particularly in the fields of HIV, TB, malaria, and maternal and child health. This platform attracts research projects and significant funding from academic institutions, the National Institutes of Health, and non-governmental organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Program

The CHAMPS surveillance program identifies causes of stillbirths and under-five mortality from 10 countries, including Kenya.

Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS)


260,000 people are part of the HDSS that collects population age, structure and density, fertility rates, birth rates, death rates, and in- and out-migrations information every six months in Siaya County. A second HDSS site with about 73,000 people was established in Kisumu city to support the CHAMPS program.

Global Immunization Program

CDC’s Global Immunization Program supports the Government of Kenya and the region in developing national policies, strategies, action plans. The program also implements and monitors projects to prevent and control vaccine-preventable diseases. CDC’s activities focus on maintaining polio-free status, achieving measles elimination and rubella control, and maintaining elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus in Kenya. The program assisted the Government of Kenya in preparing for and accelerating COVID-19 vaccination.

Global Immunization Program Accomplishments:

  • Accelerated COVID-19 vaccination in Kenya targeting 14 counties that had low COVID-19 vaccination coverage. CDC conducted 67 sessions and trained over 6,000 health workers how to correctly store, transport, administer and monitor COVID-19 vaccinations. Additionally, 70 vaccination outreach sessions were conducted to bring vaccination services closer to where people live. As a result, over 600,000 individuals were fully vaccinated, over 500,000 received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and over 100,000 received booster doses.
  • Supported the implementation of routine immunization activities in one of the lowest performing counties in Kenya from December 2021 – February 2022. The support led to rapid improvement of the routine vaccination coverage; activities are ongoing to sustain and improve on this achievement.
  • Through the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, supported active surveillance using for polio in health facilities located in hard-to-reach and insecure areas of northern Kenya.
  • Supported a measles-rubella vaccination campaign targeting high- and very-high-risk counties to close growing measles immunity gaps. CDC filled critical funding gaps and supported added costs for masks, sanitizer, and additional vaccination days to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the campaign. This campaign safely vaccinated over 3 million children, more than the estimated target.

Migration Health

CDC’s Global Migration and Quarantine Africa Field Program, located in Kenya, works with local and international partners to address public health needs associated with population mobility. The program is responsible for the medical requirements for U.S. immigration and refugee resettlement to prevent importation of infectious diseases of public health significance into the United States. It is anticipated that approximately 20,000 refugees per year will resettle into the United States from Africa – the largest contributor to the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

The program collaborates with other CDC programs, as well as the U.S. Department of State Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration, and US Consulates; IOM; the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR); foreign ministries of health; and nongovernmental organizations providing healthcare and preventive services to refugee populations

Migration Health Accomplishments:

  • Supported the Government of Kenya in strengthening port health core capacity.
  • Supports respiratory disease surveillance and laboratory capacity development in Kenya’s two refugee camps – home to over 400,000 refugees. This activity strengthens detection of outbreak-prone diseases.
  • Strengthens vaccine delivery systems in Kenya’s refugee camps to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccination programs.
  • Provides technical assistance to partners to improve surveillance, preparedness, and response at border crossings, ports of entry, and between countries.

Influenza Program

CDC’s Influenza Program Regional Hub in Kenya supports enhanced surveillance and laboratory capacity. This activity allows timely detection and characterization of seasonal influenza, detection of novel and emerging variants, as well as other respiratory viruses of pandemic potential. CDC works closely with partners and Ministries of Health in Kenya and other countries in the region including Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Influenza Program Accomplishments:

  • Supported the establishment of Kenya’s National Influenza Center (NIC) in 2014. In 2018, the World Health Organization Africa (WHO-AFRO) certified the NIC laboratory in testing for influenza types A and B circulating.
  • Supported Kenya’s use of influenza surveillance and laboratory capacity for SARS-CoV-2 testing and leverages existing influenza research platforms to study COVID-19.
CDC Staff in Kenya
  • 21 U.S. Assignees
  • 143 Locally Employed
Kenya at a Glance
  • Population: 52.6 million (2019)
  • Per capita income: $4,370
  • Life expectancy at birth: F 71/M 67 years
  • Infant mortality rate: 30/1,000 live births

Sources: World Bank 2019, Kenya
Population Reference Bureau 2019, Kenya

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

Source: GBD Compare 2019, Kenya

Page last reviewed: September 20, 2022
Content source: Global Health