David Nyawade

Mr David Nyawade as seen on a photo he posted on LinkedIn while decked out in maroon scrubs with a stethoscope around his neck, and a notebook in his right hand in 2017. 

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A country of quacks? ‘Fake’ doctor who has practiced for 16 years deregistered

What you need to know:

  • Nyawade has vowed to lodge a complaint with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board for deregistering him.
  • The board says he used fake papers to register as a practising doctor.

For 16 years, David Onyango Nyawade posed as a medical practitioner with an ornate online presence showing the prestigious schools he attended and the work he did as a doctor.

But on Tuesday, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) published his photo in a public notice in the dailies, confirming that he had been struck off the register and banned from practising medicine in the country, ever.

"Members of the public are advised not to seek the services of David Nyawade Onyango," Dr Kariuki said in the notice.

On October 17 this year, his status on the medical register was active and he had registered his licence as a senior registrar.

A day after he was struck off the register, his name was officially removed from the KMPDC website.

His qualifications when he first registered with the council show that he attended Makerere University for his undergraduate studies and later studied at Stanford University in 2020, specialising in vascular surgery.

According to Yale Medicine, vascular surgery is a medical specialty in which a surgeon can treat a wide range of heart and blood flow problems. Common vascular conditions include deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and varicose veins.

The chief executive officer of KMPDC, Dr David Kariuki, confirmed to the Nation that the council had been investigating mr Nyawade's case for several months and had decided to de-list him this month.

"It is part of our normal work to check and ensure that doctors practising in our country are qualified to do their job. For the man in question, we found that some of the documents he had were fake," he said.

The Nation searched Mr Nyawade's online footprint to try and decipher who he is and establish the authenticity of his background.

While he was active on Facebook before the notice and a few hours after it was posted, Mr Nyawade appears to have deactivated his account.

What this writer has found, however, is an account belonging to a user called Catherine J Tegawa, who, according to the posts she has made, is someone who knows Mr Nyawade on a personal level.

Ms Tegawa's account, which joined the platform in 2017, has a profile picture of a woman whose digital search links her to the Philippines because of the school shirt and tag she is wearing. It suggests a student from Mabini Colleges in that country.

The same account, but now with the title Prof Catherine Tegawa, was the only one to recommend Mr Nyawade on LinkedIn, claiming that she managed him directly. On Facebook, however, this account claimed to be Mr Nyawade's mother, as most posts referred to him as “son”.

While Facebook shows that one of Ms Tegawa’s check-in locations is Mbita in Homa Bay County in 2017, LinkedIn on the other hand shows that she is a professor at Stanford University in the US and had studied at the University of Oxford and Harvard University.

Another Facebook user hinted in one of the comments that he worked with Mr Nyawade at Homa Bay County Referral Hospital, where he was a medical officer.

Screenshots of his now-deleted Facebook account match what he posted on LinkedIn, which was still active yesterday.

The first time he posted on LinkedIn was in 2017, when he shared a post from Stanford University welcoming his fellow students to the institution.

In the same year, he also posted a photo of himself wearing maroon scrubs and a stethoscope around his neck while holding a notebook. “I am halfway through this hard journey,” the caption said. For four years, there was no trace of him on that platform.

In 2021, he announced his comeback online by sharing a post by Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organisation.

He reshared such posts three times and took another break from the social media platform.

Last year, he returned to announce to the world that he was an authority on vascular surgery.

“Hey LinkedIn! If you're new to following me, I'm talking about #vascularaccess, #vascularsurgery, #vascularhealth, #vasculardisease and #vascular. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what to share," he wrote.

The last post he made to his 925 followers on the platform was last month, when he announced that he was finally a surgeon, sharing photos of a custom-made mug and a stethoscope with his name on it.

He also noted that the KMPDC had issued him with a Certificate of Specialist Recognition in August this year.

Going by his online footprint, he has about eight special licences and certifications from different parts of the world.

Apart from Makerere University, he claims to have studied at the University of Nairobi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology as a fellow and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The Nation reached out to the Registrar Academic Affairs of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Dr Walter Akuno, who said that the university, before enrolling anyone, authenticates their credentials.

“We don’t have a position called a fellow. We have never had such a person in our institution,” he said Dr Akuno .

The Nation contacted Mr Nyawade yesterday. He claimed to have learnt of his de-registration from the media like everyone else.

"These allegations are not true, I am actually working on it with my lawyer because it was done without them even sending me a query," he said. "I went to Makerere University and graduated in 2007," he added.

This writer asked him about the other schools listed on the General Medical Council register, as well as his online accounts, and he was reluctant to talk about them. "I think if we meet face to face then we can talk. Some things I can't talk about on the phone because there's a case I'm working on," he said.

When asked where he was practising as a doctor, he said he was in private practice in several hospitals around Nairobi, but was reluctant to disclose which hospitals he was affiliated to.

“Why are you asking me these questions?” he railed. “It will be better when I am with my lawyer tomorrow. I will file a complaint with the board. It is not right what they have done.”

He said he had tried to contact the board and had been asked to lodge an official complaint.

In September this year, Mr Nyawade was one of the five shortlisted candidates for the position of Deputy Director of Medical Services in Busia County. His interview date has been set for November 27, 2023 at 9.30am.