The struggle of establishing MKU medical school
Published on: August 09, 2021 01:00 (EAT)
When Mount Kenya University (MKU) graduated its first batch of 29 medical doctors during its 19th graduation ceremony, little was said about the struggles that the founder of the institution went through to get accreditation from the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC), to join the league of elite universities training medical doctors. Prior to the establishment of the medical school in the year 2014, MKU founder professor Simon Gicharu, had made endless trips to the KMPDC offices seeking guidance and clearance to establish a medical school. KMPDC CEO Daniel Yumbya admits that he turned away Professor Gicharu enough times, despite the fact that he had already partnered with Thika Level 5 Hospital to put up the new General Kago Funeral Home and Anatomy laboratory, a facility which could hold up to 112 bodies. the previous facility could only hold 12 bodies. Professor Gicharu had invested Ksh.300 million in putting up the facility. “Even after that making that investment I didn’t want to see him. I kept wondering why a businessman wanted to engage in the training of doctors. I am not a businessman. But due to his persistence , Professor George Magoha, who was then the chairperson of the Medical Council , summoned Prof. Simon Gicharu and asked me to sit through the meeting,” said Yumbya . “Do you understand that there is no money you will make when you engage in the training of doctors ?” Professor Magoha is said to have asked the MKU founder . “I am aware,” Professor Gicharu responded. “ I just want to give back to the society,” he added. Prof. Magoha is said to have asked Mr Yumbya to put together a committee that would inspect The MKU Medical School. The team got so impressed with the impeccable physical infrastructure, the teaching staff and the curriculum that the MKU team had already prepared that they gave the university the green light to start admitting students . Prof. Gicharu says that even as the institution graduated its pioneer doctors it had not made a coin from training doctors but he was happy that his institution had gotten a chance to contribute in improving access to medical care. Asked by the founding vice chancellor Professor Stanley Waudo why he did not want to start a commercial funeral home and anatomy lab, the MKU founder said that he did not want people to associate him with the business of the dead and start calling him “Gicharu wa Mortuary.” The University’s principal of College of Health sciences Dr. Josphat Njuguna said that some of the pioneer students who could not keep up with the rigorous training at the medical school were absorbed in other science related courses. He also announced plans by the University to start offering master’s degrees for medical doctors from next year in order to bring out a pool of highly experienced specialised medical personnel in the country. “We have entered into partnership with government institutions in areas of training and research which is expected to go a long way towards achieving the country’s universal healthcare goal,” he said. As the 29 doctors celebrated in garlands during the 19th graduation ceremony the story of the struggle of establishment of the medical school continues to give their trainers the impetus to continue churning more doctors. The Thika Level 5 Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr. Josephat Ngugi said the collaboration between MKU and the hospital had borne fruit in helping train medics from the university saying they pride themselves in the graduation of the 29 medics from MKU. He called for expansion of the areas of training to ensure students specialised in several areas of the medical field. While noting that the current country’s ratio of over 70,000 patients per doctor is far below the World Health Organisation recommended figure of one doctor to 11,000 patients, Dr Ngugi called on universities to be admitting more students to train in medicine fields in their undergraduate programmes.