Elkanah Odembo Praises University of Massachusetts Boston’s Global Outreach
Kenyan Ambassador to the United States Elkanah Odembo and the commercial attaché at the Kenyan Embassy, James Kiiru, visited the University of Massachusetts Boston campus Friday.
Members of the Center for Governance and Sustainability and College of Nursing and Health Sciences met with Odembo, Kiiru, and other guests from Kenya. Faculty members and students in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences have traveled to central Kenya for four years to survey and screen locals for heart disease and diabetes as part of a project called Kenya Heart and Sole: The Afya Njema Project. Odembo points to high infant mortality rates in Africa as one of the reasons why a focus on health is so important.
“Most of the diseases are treatable diseases. The kind of partnership that we see with UMass Boston and Kenyan universities and institutions is good for us because we get to learn from a well-established institution. Any university worth its salt here in the United States needs to have a global outreach. And that’s something I talked about a little bit today with [Governor Deval Patrick]. The universities can be the best in the world, but if they’re not starting to open up and looking outwards and building bridges with the rest of the world, particularly with the continent of Africa, they could be missing out,” Odembo says. “To hear that there are students from the University of Massachusetts Boston who go and spend time to learn about our situation in Kenya that is very significant. To hear that we have Kenyan students who come here to earn their PhDs is very, very significant.”
One of those students is Jacob Kariuki, a first year nursing student working on his PhD. Kariuki learned about UMass Boston through one of UMass Boston’s partner institutions in the Kenya Heart and Sole program, the P.C.E.A. Tumutumu School of Nursing. Kariuki worked there before coming to the U.S.
“I think the best part about [UMass Boston] is the commitment to service learning and research, which must be in place by institutions of higher learning globally,” Kariuki says.
Prior to his visit, Odembo met with Governor Patrick as part of a roundtable with the Massachusetts business community.
“I conveyed to them that the continent of Africa is ready for business. We are addressing governance issues, we are investing heavily in infrastructure, and our economies are growing very well across the continent. Almost half the countries on the continent over the last six, seven years have been growing over five percent annually. We have a very youthful population and we have a growing middle class. So anyone who is serious about doing business, internationally and globally, must look at Africa not just as a place you get commodities from anymore, but a place where there’s a market with a growing middle class that can consume whatever products that you have,” Odembo says.
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