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Daniel Karugu, Kenya

Daniel Karugu from Kenya explains how the MSc Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health developed his expertise in managing disease outbreaks.

MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health student, Daniel Karugu
"Whatever I was learning I was applying." Daniel found the modules related closely to his profession in Kenya

Can you tell us a bit about your work as Assistant Director of the Department of Veterinary Services in the Kenyan Government?

Our work includes detecting and managing disease outbreaks. Specifically, my office deals with developing programmes and strategies and contingency plans for diseases. I also do day-to-day work in risk analysis for imports and exports.

How did the MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health relate to your job?

This course helped me gain the expertise in perfecting risk analysis and management of disease outbreaks. Right now, we are working on a contingency plan for mad cow disease and I have been using the knowledge I gained.

Did you have a favourite module?

I had two. The first was Management of Infectious Disease Outbreaks in Animal Populations, which was tailor made for what I do on a day-to-day basis. Whatever I was learning I was applying.

The other was Economics for Livestock Development and Policy, which was very difficult in terms of understanding the theory, but very interesting because it was practical, and you could see how decisions are made that affect the livestock industry.

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Professor Dirk Pfeiffer, Course Director for the MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health, describes the One Health approach.

Did you find what you were learning was relevant to Kenya?

One of the unique examination methods was tutor-marked assignments. We would be given a choice of questions and you'd be required to use local knowledge and local information to answer.

I found these questions very enriching, and I deliberately chose questions that were basically local - about the livestock production systems, about the situations in the country. And by going out into the industry, for example, to government or research departments, you can find a lot of information, which helped to make it a local content course.

You balanced your study with a full-time job. How did you manage it?

The distance-learning method is quite a challenge for people who are working. I found it very difficult, especially when you are going home and you are tired. You always have a feeling that you want to postpone learning to the next day.

I would advise anyone doing distance learning to plan ahead - if you're going to do it in four years, how are you going to do it? And stick to those schedules. If you lag behind, you lag behind for good.

So now that you’ve finished the course, what are your plans?

I feel very confident that I'll be able to do a better job in my workplace. I also have a dream that I will go into consultancy work to advise East African governments on decisions using risk analysis.

Daniel studied with a Commonwealth Scholarship, a scheme that supports outstanding candidates who can make major contributions to the needs of their home countries.

In 2017 through 2018, he spent 12 months consulting for the Centre of Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), implementing a project called "Capacity Building in Risk Assessment, Official Controls and Reinforcement of Inspection Service in Africa". His tasks in the project included preparing an animal health risk analysis training manual, assessing the structure and capacity of official controls in animals health in the region, developing an inspection manual for most traded animal commodities, training officials of competent authorities on these aspects as well as proposing recommendations for rapid response for animal health and food safety emergency for East African Community.

Learn more about RVC courses available by distance learning.

Written by Suraya Saleh