London Connection Q&A: Daniel Karugu

Daniel Karugu, of Kenya, shares how the MSc Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health gave him expertise in managing disease outbreaks
Daniel Karugu at the University of London International Programmes graduation
"This course helped me gain expertise in risk analysis and management of disease outbreaks": Daniel Karugu
The Management of Infectious Disease Outbreaks in Animal Populations module was tailor made for what I do on a day-to-day basis, so whatever I was learning I was applying

Can you please tell us a bit about your work as Assistant Director of the Department of Veterinary Services, in the Government of Kenya?
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 has 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 gained.

Did you have a favourite module?
I had two favourite modules. 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, so whatever I was learning I was applying. The other was called 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.

And did you find what you were learning was relevant to Kenya?
One of the unique examination methods was the tutor marked assignments. We would be given a choice of questions and you’d be required to use your 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 for an MSc Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health, which is offered by distance learning, with academic direction from the Royal Veterinary College.
  • Daniel's studies were funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK. Ten scholarships have recently been awarded for 2018, with candidates selected on the basis of merit and their potential to contribute to the needs of their home countries. Studies in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health are aimed at animal health specialists, scientists, epidemiologists and public health specialists.