Today marks the centennial of the birth of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected President. Highly regarded around the world for his commitment to peace, negotiation and reconciliation, Mr Mandela was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of RCSI by then RCSI President Professor Thomas J. Hennessy at a ceremony in Cape Town in March 1996.
In an address at the Cape Town conferring ceremony, Mr Mandela said: “During the dark days of apartheid your College provided places for many South Africans who were excluded by racist laws form the medical schools of their own country. More than 300 of the South African doctors practising medicine in our country today graduated in Dublin between 1950 and 1990. Through these doctors, you are making a contribution to the healthcare needs of our people. As a college that is more than 200 years old, you have produced surgeons and physicians who have gone to many parts of the world including South Africa.”
Marking the occasion of centennial of Mr Mandela’s birth, Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI CEO said: “Nelson Mandela reminded us all of the importance of education when he said ‘‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’. Today, RCSI remains deeply committed to addressing global inequalities in access to healthcare through education.”
With Irish Aid funding, RCSI supports the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) to develop and provide specialist quality-assured surgical education and training to medical practitioners in Africa. 260 specialist surgeons have graduated from COESCSA so far and 500 surgeons are currently in training.
Professor Kelly said that “with EU funding we are now working to identify a model in which non-physician clinicians are trained to deliver safe surgery in rural hospitals in Africa. Through this work, we aim to leverage our expertise in surgery to promote improved healthcare delivery through education and training”.