My first interest in Public Health Nutrition came during my undergraduate studies while doing a nutrition course that required reading of a reference text book by the late Professor Michael Latham titled Human Nutrition in Tropical Africa. The graphic pictures of Kwashiorkor and Marasmus left a long lasting impression and a yearning to learn more about preventive strategies. This was in the early 70’s when child malnutrition was viewed as a problem of inadequate protein intake. So in my early twenties I got employed in the Ministry of Health, Kenya as a junior nutritionist and actively participated in the dietary management of child malnutrition by mainly using Dried Skimmed Milk (DSM). Implications of this are another story. A post graduate Diploma in Human Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) was quite an eye opener in particular exposure to the Great Protein Fiasco debate led by Prof. Donald MacLaren . It dawned on me that back in Kenya our dietary management of child malnutrition was basically wrong.
The LSHTM training provided a firm foundation that has enabled me view the problem of malnutrition in a more holistic manner. It was a quite a turning point because it led to the development of my passion for trying to shape the way health care providers get access to nutrition training relevant to their professional aspirations. This even became more apparent when research conducted while pursuing a Master’s degree in Applied Human Nutrition at the University of Nairobi established two key observations relevant to Public Health Nutrition. One was the futility of a community based nutritionists monitoring child growth on a daily basis with no capacity to implementing a viable intervention other than giving a poor rural mother advice on what a child should eat. Second to this was the fact that these community nutrition health workers were just too few and too low in the Ministry of Health hierarchy.
I didn’t have any ready answers so I decided to go back to school. I in addition to my 1989 Masters in Applied Human Nutrition from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, in 2005 I also obtain a PhD in Human Nutrition from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. I decided to join Moi University in 1992 and for the most part was my goal has been to ensure that there is focused attention given to basic nutrition during the training of students at the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Public Health. I also have had an opportunity to conducted research focusing on the relationship between household food security and maternal and child nutritional status. I share my expertise and training as an external examiner for the universities of Maseno and Kenyatta. My future plans include research into nutrition and chronic disease, and the role of nutrition in Global health especially in the area of nutrition and climate change.
In 2011, I was appointed as the dean school of public health. I must confess it was quite an exciting turn of events. This appointment has put me in a unique and a stronger position that enables me act more effectively in promoting not only training but also collaborative research in areas relevant to Public Health Nutrition. As the dean of MUSPH I have had the opportunity to establish collaborations beneficial to nutrition with Universities of Newcastle, Australia (Health Systems Strengthening) Johns Hopkins , USA (Impact of MOH Community Health Strategy), Tulane (Monitoring and Evaluation) Duke University (Twining program for Nutrition and Mental Health) and Tufts ( E- Problem Based Learning) . I feel privileged to be the dean of a MUSPH that offers a very popular Master of Public Health (MPH) program with five tract options that include: Epidemiology and Disease Control, Human Nutrition, Health Services Management, Health Promotion and Disaster and Risk Management. My immediate goal is to ensure that MUSPH continues to offer diversified academic programmes that incorporate the internationally recognized nutrition competencies, delivered using modern ICT methods (E-learning) and widely availed through Open Resource Education (OER).
I have recently participated in two projects that will l definitely improve the way we implement our academic programmes. Together with academic members of the school I have been able to coordinate and provide leadership for a response to the Ministry of Health (MoH) Kenya open international tender requesting for Expression of Interest (EOI) in the implementation of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Kenya/Atlanta) and Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP). The second development has been participation in establishment of the African Nutrition Research Consortium (ANSRC). The aim of this crucial network is the implementation and improvement of post graduate training in Human Nutrition for the East and Central Africa Region. In both cases we hope for a positive feedback.