UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to pilot Smart Anti-Epidemic Robotic Solutions in Kenya

January 22, 2021

Smart anti-epidemic robotic solutions to be piloted in three locations: Kenyatta National Hospital, Mbagathi Hospital and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The robots are named Shujaa (Hero), Jasiri (Brave) and Tumaini (Hope) in recognition and celebration of the froontline and healthcare workers at the forefromt of fighting the pandemic.

Nairobi, 22 January 2021: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with Ministry of Health has launched the piloting of smart anti-epidemic robotic solutions to aid the health response and management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. As the world contends with the impact of COVID-19 – a highly infectious virus – frontline healthcare workers remain highly vulnerable due to exposure to the virus's transmission. The deployment of the smart anti-epidemic robotic solutions, funded by the Government of Japan, will play an essential role in protecting frontline healthcare workers by limiting direct human-contact with patients. The robots will further support preventive measures and enhance public awareness of COVID-19 preventive measures and generate real-time statistics reports.

Speaking at the launch event, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Health Hon. Mutahi Kagwe noted that: Digitization is one of the strategies used to combat the pandemic which has proven highly infectious. With this realization, the Government is partnering with UNDP and the Government of Japan, to utilise technology in the COVID-19 health response. The Robotic technology to be deployed at Kenyatta National Hospital and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will go further in assisting our healthcare in managing the disease."

Compelling evidence has shown that the use of technology can accelerate the development of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Digital innovations can also strengthen the health and community systems needed to deliver diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to people in need. The integration of the robots into Kenya’s healthcare system, will enhance the control of infections, prevent transmissions and support the storage of big data to inform decision making, and preparedness, ultimately contributing to the flattening of the infection curve.

“The piloting of the smart anti-epidemic robotic solutions is by no means a replacement of the crucial role played by our healthcare workers. Based on lessons from global and regional experiences where UNDP has successfully supported similar initiatives (Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea and India) we hope the introduction of the robotics in Kenya will uncover insights on leveraging technology within the healthcare system. Through an experimental lens, as a long-term investment, we hope to test the impact and effectiveness of robotics in the healthcare and a potential scaled up adoption of similar technologies across more public health facilities. We are keen to leverage this technology to provide an opportunity for the youth in Kenya to gain 4IR skills and hopefully open more employment and entrepreneurship opportunities” said Walid Badawi, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya.

The robotic solutions designed in Belgium and distributed by Zorabots Africa was procured as part of UNDP’s broader support that aims to strengthen Kenya’s COVID-19 response at national and county levels, through an inclusive and multisectoral approach which includes addressing its Socio-Economic Impact. The Government of Japan has provided UNDP in Kenya with funding worth USD 2 million as part of UNDP’s global support to COVID 19 Response, which Kenya is among 60 beneficiary countries.

“Improvement healthcare is one of Kenya's policy priorities. And so, the support to this sector with such advanced technology as we are handing over today will no doubt contribute to the great effort currently underway to control COVID-19 in Kenya successfully. I can assure you that Japan will continue to collaborate with Kenya not only in the Health Sector but also in various fields to support the BIG-4 Agenda and thus maintaining our good relationship.” H.E. Ryoichi Horie, Japan Ambassador to Kenya.

Besides the smart anti-epidemic robotic solutions, valued at USD 320,000; UNDP also handed over 2 Medical waste microwaves valued at USD 400,000 for Migori and Siaya Counties - these have already been delivered to the hospitals and are currently being installed; PPEs valued at over USD 200,000 to complement further our contribution to partner institutions for the continuity of business in the national response; and, Testing kits valued at over USD 230,000.


Notes for the editors:
In line with the Secretary-General's mandate for UNDP, as the technical lead on socio-economic response and recovery, UNDP is working closely with the U.N. Resident Coordinator and the U.N. Country Team in Kenya to respond to the Government's requests for socio-economic assessments, support and implementation of the national COVID-19 response and recovery plans.

UNDP has put its assets at the disposal of the U.N. system to facilitate a response that builds on the expertise of the entirety of the U.N. System, and provides the integrated policy advice and implementation support required in a development emergency setting.

So far, UNDP in Kenya has mobilized over USD 7 million in support of COVID-19 response efforts. The funds have been used to support, among others:

  • Technical leadership support in the drafting and implementation of the UN COVID-19 Socio-economic Response Plan, technical and financial support towards the Government of Kenya national Economic Recovery Strategy led by National Treasury and Planning and the County COVID-19 Social-Economic Reengineering and Recovery Strategy led by the Council of Governors
  • The deployment of 50 U.N. Volunteer frontline health workers to increase response capacity in 14 counties placed in hospitals and medical facilities to counties most in need under our U.N. Joint Devolution Programme implemented in collaboration with our sister agencies UNWOMEN and UNICEF - in partnership with the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs;
  • Procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) in support of various government institutions to support business continuity including MoH, EACC, Council of Governors, Ministry of Environment and Forestry amongst others with a focus on buying Kenya and build Kenya also to foster local economic revitalization;
  • Provision of medical waste disposal equipment to facilitate safe management of waste in 13 health facilities across the four counties we are working with under our Global Environment Facility (GEF) support programme in collaboration with the Ministry  of Environment and Forestry
  • Raising awareness, factual information and communication on COVID-19 – including addressing gender-based violence and access to justice through our partnership and collaboration with civil society organizations, the County Assemblies Forum, and County Governments
  • Surfacing and supporting innovations from brilliant Kenyan youth that with the right support can hold the keys to doing development differently and building forward better through the Great COVID Innovation Challenge.

For further information and media enquiries, please contact:
Ngele Ali – Head of Communications UNDP Kenya | +254 798 481 008 | ngele.ali@undp.org