Lo­cals on top of their games

The Citizen (KZN) - - LETTERS - Jen­nie Rid­yard

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.

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