Meet Dr Cyrus Matheka, who has an interest in the field of forensic toxicology, a discipline pivotal in unraveling intricate murder cases. By carefully examining bodily fluids and tissue samples, forensic toxicologists help to solve unanswered questions about illnesses and deaths.
Prior to joining AKU, Dr Matheka worked as a Senior Medical Officer at Kenya's County Government of Makueni for a period of five years, where he oversaw various healthcare delivery projects.
“The passion to become a forensic toxicologist comes from my medical background as a clinical pathologist. I have always had an interest and passion in solving complex diagnostic challenges and having been in management with Makueni County, I wanted to study in an area where I will not spend a lot of time at the bedside interacting with patients on a regular basis."
Dr Matheka, who is also a qualified Certified Public Accountant (CPA-K), was involved in overseeing two projects in Makueni. One of the projects was on universal healthcare management and the other involved spearheading the World Bank-funded project on improving maternal healthcare outcomes, a role he dutifully performed for five years.
“After spending five years with the County Government of Makueni, I decided to further my studies. During this time, I was looking for a unique programme that will help me influence policy in the healthcare systems, especially in the diagnostic services. That's why I applied to pursue a master's in clinical pathology at AKU where I was accepted on my first attempt."
During his time at AKU, Dr Matheka was privileged to serve as the inaugural chair of the Aga Khan University Students Association (AKUSA), which also played a crucial role in honing his leadership skills.
“At AKUSA, we laid the foundation for several administration issues which were directly affecting our residents. As a team, we had a 10-point agenda consisting of student welfare issues which by the time we were leaving office, had been implemented with the AKU leadership team or were at an advanced stage of implementation. During my time in office, we recorded remarkable improvement regarding the resident's welfare of the residents."
As he prepares for convocation on February 17, Dr Matheka aspires to impact Kenya's medical landscape by expanding access to quality healthcare, especially diagnostic services for the majority of citizen unable to access specialised treatment.
“Currently, most of the high-quality diagnostic services are only available in the urban areas and access is limited to those who have the purchasing power, therefore, leaving a huge majority of Kenyans who are unable to access specialized healthcare services, especially for the rural majority. That is my ultimate dream that wherever you are in this country, you can be able to access high-quality healthcare services."
Looking ahead, his vision encompasses not only personal growth but also a profound impact on healthcare systems and structures, both in his homeland of Makueni County and beyond.
“The training I received at AKU as a clinical pathologist has opened a lot of opportunities for me. I have accepted to join AKU as faculty in my department, as well as volunteer with the undergraduate programme in medicine as a tutor and researcher. The County Government of Makueni has also requested me to go back and help the county in strengthening diagnostic services and policy development."
Away from the world of medicine, Dr Matheka likes spending his time in community service where he serves as a chairman and board member of different schools in Makueni County.
“I love doing resource mobilization and looking for scholarships for the very needy but bright children in Makueni County. I also love farming. Before I came to AKU, I dug a huge dam for both personal use and my community to use for farming purposes."
Dr Matheka would like to venture into exotic bird rearing and pig farming. He also hopes to further his studies with a Fellowship in Clinical Hematology or Forensic Toxicology, sub-specialists which are very rare in the sub-Saharan region.