Lives of the fellows

Wilfred Koinange Karuga

b.17 August 1939 d.27 August 2012
MB ChB East Africa(1965) MRCP(1970) FRCP Edin(1982) FRCP(1984)

Wilfred Koinange Karuga was director of medical services at the Kenyan Ministry of Health. He was born in Kenya, the son of Charles Karuga, a farmer. He attended schools at Githunguri, Kiambaa and Kabete between 1945 and 1953, before going to Mangu High School in 1954. He went on to Makerere University in Kampala, where he gained his London intermediate examination and, in 1965, his MB ChB.

From 1965 he held junior posts at Kenyatta National Hospital and Nyanza Provincial General Hospital. In 1969 he went to the UK as a postgraduate student, first at the Brompton Hospital in London and then at Edinburgh City Hospital. He gained his MRCP in 1970 and obtained a World Health Organization (WHO) fellowship to Charles University in Prague, where he studied for a diploma in the epidemiology and control of tuberculosis. He subsequently carried out fieldwork in India.

He returned to Africa in 1970, as director of tuberculosis control in Kenya and as a physician at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (Kenyatta National Hospital). He was also an honorary officer at the East African Tuberculosis Investigation Centre and an honorary lecturer in medicine at the University of Nairobi Medical School.

In 1972 he became director of communicable disease control in Kenya. He started the epidemiological division of the Ministry of Health, introduced a health information system and a national immunisation schedule. He also managed the national smallpox eradication and tuberculosis control programmes.

From 1978 he was senior deputy director of medical services at the Ministry of Health, and in 1979 he was appointed director of medical services. In this role he was an adviser to the Minister of Health and to the permanent secretary. Through the 1980s and 1990s he also held roles in the Ministries of Finance, Health, Agriculture and Industry.

At various points in his career he served as a short term consultant for WHO, particularly advising on immunisation programmes, smallpox eradication, tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases and typhoid.

In 1966 he married Rosemary Bagenda, who was also a doctor. They had three sons and one daughter.

RCP editor

[Kenya Citizen TV 4 September 2012 ‘Wilfred Koinange laid to rest’ – accessed 22 February 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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