- Dr Were Onyino is the president of Kenya Medical Association.
- He believes that there should be more doctors serving as legislators in Kenya’s August House.
Dr Were founded Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and Medical Students’ Association of Kenya (MSAKE). He has also been a board member of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC).
He spoke to TV47 Digital on career, political ambitions and family.
Tell us the genesis of your activism and how it ropes together your medical career
My activism began in campus at the University of Nairobi (UON) when I was elected as a student leader. From there, I just wanted to offer solutions to problems I found in the industry.
So you founded KMPDU?
Yes! At the time intern doctors were earning KSh35,000, which was insane because the salary could not sustain a doctor’s lifestyle. I spoke to my fellow interns and UON finalist medical students and that’s how we formed a union.
I was the deputy secretary-general, then later I became the Secretary-general.
Were you practising medicine while in KMPDU?
Yes! The only time I have not practised medicine in 13 years was in 2012 when I was fired. My then employer fired me because he believed a union leader was detrimental to the operations of his hospital.
You have urged doctors to seek elective positions on several occasions. Do we expect to see you on the ballot in 2022?
I believe it is very unfair to have policies about doctors being made by people who are not in the profession. I believe we need doctors in parliament.
My plan at the moment is to retire from the boardroom and focus on the scalpel, now that I am a surgeon. Once I have acquired enough money, I might join politics. Maybe.
Your personal life is a closely guarded secret…
I try to keep it private so that it is not used against me.
A wife, kids? Both?
I am married to an accountant and together we have three children. Our last born is two months old.
Were you intentional about not marrying a fellow doctor?
No, but I am glad I did not. Can you imagine two practising doctors raising children? Your children become orphans before they actually are because you are barely home.
You have achieved so much in 13 years…
Funny thing, people tell me that all the time, but I don’t see it. I believe that everything I have achieved is simply part of the process.