Reunion of Medical School Class of ‘85
About 80 medical doctors from all over the world attended the Medical School’s Class of ‘85 reunion held over three days recently.
The ‘walk down memory lane’ elicited laughs, giggles and cheers from participants as they tried to identify ‘who was who’ on the original 1985 class photo.
Sport Medicine and Anti-Aging Specialist, Dr Dhesan Moodley, said he flew in from Atlanta in the United States to re-connect with old friends.
‘Being in these premises reminds me of everything we went through. The standard of training we received was very high and we made long lasting friendships,’ said Moodley. ‘Doctors from the Natal Medical School do very well all over the world.’
Moodley plans to return to South Africa in the next few years.
An unpleasant memory for him was the racism in the old South Africa – ‘even to study here we had to get special Government consent’.
Moodley did his internship at ‘Black hospitals - we were not allowed into Addington Hospital. Had we been allowed in, medicine would have benefitted because we would have learned from each other as we all had the same health challenges’.
Said Clinical Epidemiologist, Rheumatologist and Gerontologist, Dr Charles Inderjeeth: ’They were the best years of my life, helping transform me to understand other races. I am really proud to be a product of the old Natal Medical School.’
‘The School, which produced world renowned doctors, gave me political awareness,’ said Inderjeeth, who lives in Australia with his family. ‘I came back to my alma mater to meet former colleagues and to re-connect with my past.’
Asked to compare South African medical training with that in Australia, he said South Africa was the best when it came to clinical exposure while Australia was stronger in its academic focus.
‘Family Physician and President of the African Society for Sexual Medicine, Dr Prithy Ramlakan, said: ‘I love medicine. I believe if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.’ Ramlakan lives in Newlands East, Durban, with his wife and three children.
A General Practitioner in Durban, Dr Mags Moodley, said he recalled the time medical students organised a mass meeting. ‘We were the centre of the student struggle in Durban. In May 1982, we were chased by riot police after we burned the Apartheid South African Flag. Besides being good doctors, we still need student doctors to be activists and take the struggle for economic emancipation forward.’
SA Military Health Service, Deputy Director of Medicine, Dr Dhesi Achary, said getting to Medical School for her had been the greatest thing ever, considering they were not allowed into Howard College. ‘Although I came from a poor family, it did not prevent me from achieving and meeting great people who became activists and provided good leadership.’
She advised current medical students to be passionate about the medical profession and also to stay in the country and specialise. ‘You must be passionate - we were poor but we made it.’
‘Everything about Medical School was exciting from the first day until I left,’ said specialist Physician, Dr Stephanus Komati. ‘If I had to choose the best time of my life, I would say it’s the six years I spent at Medical School.’
The class visited the old Medical School’s segregated residence, the Alan Taylor Residence at Wentworth, and the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.
A formal reunion dinner was organised with guests of honour including political activist and previous head of the Department of Paediatrics, Professor HM Coovadia, the current Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine, Professor Richard Hift, and KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo.