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HomeWealthDr Felister Wangari: Kenya's First Female Interventional Radiologist Giving Hope To Cancer...

Dr Felister Wangari: Kenya’s First Female Interventional Radiologist Giving Hope To Cancer Patient’s

Dr Felister Wangari Maina is an interventional radiologist based at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Th medic is the only female interventional radiologist in Kenya amongst eight others who are all men.

Before becoming an interventional radiologist, Wangari was a medical officer (MO) at the Accident and Emergency in 2009.

Here is her story as told by WoK.


Interventional radiology (IR) is a medical specialty that uses minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat diseases.

It involves using imaging guidance such as X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scans to guide small instruments or catheters through the body to reach a targeted area.

The procedures performed by interventional radiologists are often less invasive and less risky than traditional surgical procedures, which can lead to quicker recovery times and shorter hospital stays.

IR procedures can be used to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions including cancer, vascular disease and chronic pain.

Wangari attained the status after attending a fellowship in Interventional Radiology at the University of Nairobi (UoN).

She took the fellowship at UoN after failing to travel to Singapore due to traveling restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Previously you had to leave the country to attain such a qualification. I applied for more than three years before getting the fellowship which I eventually got in Singapore but unfortunately, I couldn’t go,” Wangari said.

Born and raised in Nairobi, Wangari attended Kilimani Junior Academy for her primary school education after which she joined Alliance Girls High school.

She then joined the University of Nairobi where she did her undergraduate and postgraduate medical studies.

“I decided to be a physician in my early childhood years. My most enjoyable game was when my sister and I played doctor-doctor, a make-believe game where she and I played doctors to our dolls

“I loved performing ‘operations’ on the dolls. In my later years, when I joined the medical school, I was convinced that I had made the right choice,” Wangari said.

Wangari first served at KNH Accident and Emergency as a Medical Officer.

She later pursued a Master’s degree in radiology and joined KNH’s radiology department after completion of the Master’s program.

In the course of her work, Wangari developed an interest in interventional radiology and applied for it when she came across the fellowship opportunity.

“The UoN fellowship came along. I tried and got it. It was the first IR class in Kenya and there were only two students. The fellowship took two years to complete

“It is a super specialisation since I was already a radiologist specialist. IR is a new frontier in medicine and keeps on expanding,” she said.

Initially, the procedure was the last treatment option but over time, specialists have been using it at various stages from the initial diagnosis.

“It is nice because most of the time you get to see results fast and see patients responding faster after procedures without going for surgery

“We meet most patients in their desperate moments and can offer hope that was not previously there,” Wangari stated.