Locals on top of their games
So many South Africans seem to think they live in a backwater, so let me share a few little stories. Flicking through a magazine – a British magazine – I come across an article about a wildlife supervet, Romain Pizzi, who pioneered keyhole surgery for animals, and has operated on sharks, giraffes, tarantulas, and even a tiger with gallstones.
A few paragraphs in, I’m pulled up short.
“Growing up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa…” it says, and then, “When he was a teenage student at Pretoria Boys High School...” I puff up a little with pride. Later – same magazine, different article – I read about a dermatologist, Dr Richard Aron, who’s having epic results treating the scourge that is eczema. It turns out he’s also South African.
Then, for the second time in my life, I’m at an appointment with an Irish audiologist (not for me, I should stress) and, like people always do, he asks where I’m from.
“South Africa?” says he. “Wow! You have the best audiologists in the world. They’re cutting edge.”
Every conference he attends, he tells me, there are “young female audiologists” from South Africa, and it is they who are most alert, most on the ball; it is they who ask the most probing, searching questions. The rest of the delegates sit with their mouths open, somewhat dumbstruck.
And I remember how the first audiologist I saw said the very same thing a few years back.
Adding to this home-girl gratification is my neighbour, who manages several Irish private quick-care units, and who cannot speak highly enough about his medical staff from South Africa.
“They’re brilliant,” he says – I beam at him – “and the absolute best at trauma,” he adds, and my smile falters a little. I guess practice makes perfect.
I was once treated by a South African doctor who spent six months a year in Dublin, earning big bucks, and six months back home in KwaZulu-Natal, working with the poorest of folk at his rural clinic. His son, also a doctor, alternated with him in a medical relay, six months in Dublin, six months at the clinic, allowing them to earn enough to keep their beloved practice going.
So yes, dare I suggest that SA produces amongst the finest healthcare professionals – for both people and pets – in the world.