Dr Josephine Mburu, the Health PS Ruto fired over Kemsa scandal

Dr Josephine Mburu, the Public Health PS who was fired by President William Ruto on Monday, May 15, 2023, over the fresh Sh3.7 billion mosquito nets scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency. [Fle, Standard]

Dr Josephine Mburu has become the first high-ranking officer in the Kenya Kwanza administration to be dismissed, barely five months into office.

This is after President William Ruto on Monday, May 15 terminated Mburu's appointment as the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards over graft allegations on the donor-funded National Malaria Programme.

The Head of the Public Service Felix Koskei said the decision to show Ms Mburu the door followed complaints of alleged impropriety, within the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), in its management and administration of various medical programmes that are being undertaken by Kenya jointly with its development partners.

A statement by Koskei who is also President Ruto's Chief of Staff, read: "The President has been briefed on the complaints of alleged impropriety within the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) in its management and administration of various medical programmes being undertaken in conjunction with our development partners."

"The complaints follow the regular verification of expenditure by the Global Fund with regard to the National Malaria Programme that targets millions of low-income Kenyan households within our nation's malaria-endemic regions."

Mburu was among the 51 PSs appointed by President William Ruto in December 2022.

She is now the subject of an investigation into the Sh3.7 billion mosquito net deal at Kemsa, a scandal that happened when the agency was still smarting from the Sh7 billion Covid-19 pandemic scandal.

Her appointment was terminated by the President on Monday following a meeting at the State House in Nairobi that brought together officials from the ministries of Health, the National Treasury, and the Public Service Commission.

Ruto fired Mburu alongside other Kemsa officials, a day after he promised to crack the whip on the alleged graft in the agency, as part of the President's efforts to redeem the government's image in the face of the danger of driving away international donors.

The Head of State also suspended Kemsa CEO Terry Ramadhani.

"I am doing something about it. You will see results. I want to give you my commitment, I will clean up Kemsa, whatever it takes, whatever it costs," he said during an interview on Sunday.

Who is Josephine Mburu?

The axed PS holds a Higher National Diploma in Microbiology from Kenya Medical Training College-Nairobi in 2002 with a Diploma in Medical Lab Sciences from Kenya Medical Training College-Nairobi.

The 56-year-old also holds a Certificate in Medical Lab Sciences from Kenya Medical Training College-Kakamega, which she obtained between 1986 and 1988.

Mburu completed her O' level examinations at St. Francis Primary School in 1981 and 'A' level examinations at Mary Hill High School in 1985

She worked as a lecturer at the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) in Nairobi, where she served as a practical instructor in the clinical area during rotation, conducted research, and assessed students' research work.

Dr Mburu was also the Acting Head of the Microbiology Unit (National TB Lab, Public Health Bacteriology, and Oncology) from December 2016 to February 2021, the Head of the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory Technologist from 2011 to 2012, the Head/Manager at the Central Reference TB Laboratory (National Public Health Labs) from 2006 to 2011, and the Deputy Lab in charge - Quality Control Bacteriology (National Public Health Labs) from 2000 to 2005.

She also had a stint at the Microbiology Department (National Public Health Labs) from 1994 to 1999, the Kiambu District Hospital Integrated Laboratory from 1992 to 1994, and the Gatundu District Hospital Integrated Laboratory from 1988 to 1992.

Mburu is also affiliated with the Association of Kenya Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers.

She holds a Doctorate in public health from Jomo Kenyatta University and a Masters degree in public health from Kenyatta University College.

During her vetting in Parliament, Mburu told MPs she has never been mentioned in any investigatory reports, dismissed, or removed from office over the period she has been working.

President Ruto sacked the PS and the whole of the Kemsa, including its chair Daniel Rono.

Following the development, Health CS Susan Nakhumicha reconstituted the Kemsa board and appointed new members, who include Hezborn Oyieko Omollo, Bernard Kipkirui Better, Jane Masiga and Jane Nyagaturi Mbatia.

The President appointed Irungu Nyakera to serve as the new chairperson of the Kemsa board.