Walking down Memory Lane. . .

. . .with Professor Datuk Dr Daniel Mahendran Thuraiappah.

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On a Friday morning of the 21st October 2022 at 7.55 am, I was sad and shocked to receive a whatsapp message from Datuk Dr Daniel Mahendran Thuraippah’s mobile phone to me that stated  “ Datuk Dr Mahendran Thuraiappah passed away this morning”…….the message came from his wife, Datin Dr Gnanam Duraisamy. I could not believe what I had read because just the day before, on the late afternoon of the 20th October at 5.05 pm, I received a text from him stating “ hope you can attend “ in relation to a particular healthcare event that he forwarded. That probably may had been the last message he had sent to anyone.

In the last few weeks prior to his passing, both of us had been in regular communication on whatsapp. We chat in relation to my recent WONCA meeting in Oslo, Norway, and my proposal on the MOH’s White Paper as well as his nomination for the Wes Fab Oration. I had also shared past fotos of our past travels in WONCA and ARPaC. And he also shared the letter from MMA on the award of the Meritorious Service Award 2022 that was accorded to him.

 

On Sunday 23rd October, Dr Norsiah Ali, Dr Aishah Mohammad Zain, Dr Kaviayarasan , my wife and I paid our respects at his funeral at his home in Taman Titiwangsa. I was invited by his family to read a eulogy , which I did spontaneously . It was an honour and privilege for me, but I also said that those few minutes did no justice to someone whom I had spent almost 20 years in AFPM as a colleague, a mentor and a travelling companion. 


Being one of the remaining few in AFPM who had the privilege of working with the Founding Fathers, namely the late Dato’ Seri Diraja  Dr Syed Mahmood Jamallullail, Datuk Paduka Dr Ruby Abdul Majeed ,  Dr MK Rajakumar and other Past Presidents, I strongly felt that I needed to share my thoughts and memories in words. This was to  honour  a colleague who had spent a great deal of his professional life giving his utmost commitment and sacrifices to AFPM, ARPaC and WONCA as well as to other institutions and communities. I needed to share and made it known to all our friends and colleagues, both in and out of AFPM, of this truly great Malaysian family physician.

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My first working association with the late Datuk Thurai, as most of us fondly called him, began in 2001, when I was admitted into Council after passing the Conjoint MAFP-FRACGP examinations. I was given a “gentle nudge” then from Past President Dr Chua Wan Tiong (who was then a Council member) who proposed my name at the AGM in Vistana Hotel nearby. The late Datuk Paduka Dr Ruby Abdul Majeed was then the President, and Datuk Dr Thuraiappah, the Honorary Secretary.


Apart from the usual Council meetings at the old AFPM office in the MMA building, regular meetings were also held at the Datuk Paduka Dr Ruby Abdul Majeed’s home in Petaling Jaya. 

The late Datuk Dr Ruby Majeed, Dr MK Rajakumar, Datuk Dr Thurai and I, often had meetings with the respective Ministers and senior officers of the Health Ministry then. In particular we met regularly with Datuk Dr Narimah Awin and To’ Puan Dr Safurah Jaafar of the Family Health Development division in charting the course of primary care and the role of AFPM.