Nepal relief effort a duty to humanity - SA surgeon

By Drum Digital
04 May 2015

A Pietermaritzburg surgeon and veteran missionary sees his work in quake-struck Nepal as his obligation to the human race.

Kathmandu -

Northdale orthopaedic surgeon Liven Meneses-Turino, part of a specialist medical team from Gift of the Givers, said it was a calling.

“I have been a missionary from the time I was born. I came to South Africa as a missionary of sorts and it is part of who I am, and it is why I go with Gift of the Givers on these very important aid operations,” he said.

The earthquake, which struck last Saturday, has claimed about 7000 lives and left more than 14 000 people wounded.

Meneses-Turino opened the orthopaedic surgery unit at Northdale hospital nine years ago, and said Pietermaritzrburg had become his home.

Speaking of his missions to Haiti, Syria, and the Philippines, he said that it was his obligation to the human race.


“This career as a doctor is largely a commitment to humankind and that is also a reason why I work in the public sector. It is not about money for me.”

He added that the work in Nepal had been rewarding, and said the stream of injured people to the nation’s capital had only begun.

“We have had busy and rewarding days here in Nepal. We were quick to action with this disaster and luckily were able to wade through the red tape and start working for those who need us most. A lot of people are far away from the big cities and are injured and unable to reach us because of the conditions of the roads.

“The reality is that now our patients are starting to trickle in and the ones we are seeing have tremendous complications because of infection and sepsis.”

Meneses-Turino said the delay in providing care did not auger well for the injured.

“I foresee a disaster in prognosis for those people who are stuck without medical treatment. We will see the second wave of this disaster.

“Those with seemingly less severe injuries will get worse and worse. The death toll may rise, and people could be maimed for life. Especially when people present so long after they were hurt,” he said.

- Jeff Wicks is in Kathmandu courtesy of Gift of the Givers.


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