Receiving the Transformation, Justice and Equity Human Resources Award from the South African Medical Association added to the 90th birthday celebrations of specialist family physician, Dr Perisamy Neelapithambaran Govender.
The Silverglen nonagenarian, who still practices as a medical doctor at his practice in Merebank, accepted the prestigious award at the South African Medical Awards in Sun City, recently.
Practicing for over 55 years as a medical doctor, the father of four says he will continue to provide medical care to his patients for as long as his health allows him to.
Dr Govender attributes his longevity to his loving family, his job and hobbies, which include collecting model cars and African antiques, the upkeep of his Khoi pond and gardening.
Describing his beautiful wife of 56 years, Vasagee (81) as the highlight of his life, the father of four also has several other accomplishments including his title as the president of the South African Medical Association and being instrumental in the building and opening of the first private hospital in Chatsworth, Life Chatsmed Garden Hospital.
He also wrote and published three books.
Beyond the Stethoscope, a medical book, was published in 2015, while Legends of the Tide – The Seine-netters, a book about the roots of the Durban Fishing Industry was published in 2010. Girrmit Tales was published in 2008 and is a collection of short stories about the Indian indenture experience in South Africa.
“I am a public spirited person and was brought up by my grandparents, who taught me how to get joy from giving. I have lived my life by that rule and continue to give back to my community in any way I can,” he said.
The grandfather of three was the founder of the Durban South Doctors Guild and recalls how he was training as a gynecologist with a year to go before qualifying when he was terminated after being ‘identified as an agitator’ by the apartheid government.
After his service was terminated, he then opened his own practice, where he continues to provide medical assistance to his patients to date.
His service to humanity projects included hosting a medical camp for the victims of xenophobia at the Westcliff grounds refugee camp at his own cost for 30 days, in 2015.
The set up of medical camps with free medical treatment stems back to the 1976 and 1987 floods where Dr Govender provided medical support at his own cost.
Dr Govender’s future plans include passing on his skills to the future generation and he hopes to train indigenous children in the medical field in a pipeline project which he hopes is rolled out soon.