We’re pleased to welcome Dr David Muchiri Munyi to the IAMAT family. Dr Muchiri is the recipient of this year’s IAMAT Violet Williams Travel Medicine Scholarship, which provides a full scholarship for an African doctor or nurse to attend a travel medicine course offered by the South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM).
Dr Muchiri is a Senior House Officer in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Nairobi, Kenya. The AKUH is a teaching and referral hospital with residents Surgical, Pediatric, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Pathology and Radiology.
Dr Muchiri will be attending the SASTM travel medicine training course in Johannesburg from May 13-17. We caught up with him to learn more about his interests in travel medicine and what he likes to do when he’s not working.
IAMAT: What’s a typical day at work for you?
Dr Muchiri: I am based at the A&E department where the amount of work can be overwhelming at times. The day shift is usually the most hectic with close to 200 patients daily. The night shift is a 12-hour shift with fewer walk-in patients and more emergencies.
IAMAT: What are some typical medical issues you encounter?
Dr Muchiri: We see everything from diabetic ketoacidosis to convulsion disorders and terminally ill patients for end of life care. I also see patients evacuated by air ambulance with conditions like malaria, dengue fever, HIV-related co-infections like gastroenteritis, and minor accidents.
IAMAT: How did you first become interested in travel medicine?
Dr Muchiri: I love travelling and l have a passion for flying. If I had not done medicine I would probably have been a pilot. This interest in aviation led me to a whole new concept of medicine. The more I learned about aviation the more I realized that both can go hand in hand.
I saw travel medicine as an unexplored area as we don’t hear about it in our country, even though Kenya is hub for travellers and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa.
IAMAT: What interests you most about travel medicine and health?
Dr Muchiri: I want to help people prepare for their travel. For instance, when pregnant women ask me if it’s okay to travel or my father in law who has a pacemaker asks me if he can fly to Mombasa.
I am interested in prevention and treatment of infectious diseases so to me vaccination is a very important and interesting topic. Understanding the evolution of travel and transmission of diseases enables me to help the country be prepared for epidemics. It makes me confident while talking to patients about travel and helping to develop the next frontier which is travel medicine in Kenya.
IAMAT: What do you hope to learn during the course?
Dr Muchiri: How to take a good patient case history involving travel medicine. I want to be able to diagnose travel-related diseases, prevent diseases by vaccination, and finally be able to set up my own practice as a travel medicine specialist. I would also like to contribute to national policy reviews and the development on travel medicine at the governmental level.
IAMAT: What do you like to do when you’re not working? What are your hobbies?
Dr Muchiri: I love spending time with my wife and son. My wife loves travelling so most of the time we are driving to various destinations in Nanyuki, Naivasha, Nakuru and Embu. I like outdoor sports like archery. I also love watching Formula 1 on TV and relaxing at the Aero Club in Wilson Airport to watch aeroplanes landing and horse racing at the Jamuhuri grounds in Nairobi.
Photo courtesy of Dr David Muchiri Munyi.