Covid-19

OP-ED

Top medical professionals condemn suspension of Professor Ebrahim Variava

Top medical professionals condemn suspension of Professor Ebrahim Variava
Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital Complex where Professor Veriava employed. Photo supplied.

In North West Province, almost all Covid-19 patients are admitted to the Internal Medicine Department at Tshepong Hospital. It is extremely worrying that at the precise time the epidemic is rapidly rising, that the leader of this department is suspended.

Without warning, Professor Ebrahim Variava was yesterday suspended from his post of Head of Internal Medicine at the Tshepong public sector hospital in Klerksdorp where he has worked tirelessly for the past 20 years. This has shocked his work, clinical, teaching and research colleagues.

His suspension comes at a time of National Disaster when medical professionals, particularly those expert in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with severe medical illness, are most required to treat patients with Covid-19. During his tenure at the hospital Professor Variava has built a superb academic department in an underserved province that trains medical students and specialists and conducts cutting-edge research into HIV and TB.  

We feel that the poorly drafted and vague charges bear no relation to our experience of Professor Variava’s conduct and dedication to ethical patient care, teaching and research.

First, as a medical specialist, he prioritises excellent patient care. His dedication has contributed to this peripheral hospital becoming a centre of clinical training and research excellence and an integral part of the University of the Witwatersrand. Prof Variava is a medical activist and speaks out for sick people. He has raised concerns with the leadership of the North West Department of Health about repeated and lengthy drug stockouts, particularly of frequently used antibiotics for common infections, and medications required for patients in ICU.  When it appeared that no one was listening, as recommended by the findings of the Life Esidimeni Inquiry, he raised the issue on other platforms.

Professor Variava is an internationally recognised scholar, having published almost 90 articles in peer-reviewed international journals and has conducted multiple studies on the treatment and epidemiology of HIV, TB and drug-resistant TB. He has been integral in providing clinical care for patients with MDR and XDR TB and has sat on advisory panels for the treatment of HIV and drug-resistant TB.

In collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand and the North West Department of Health, he has ensured that medical students (including those returning from Cuba) and medical specialists are trained in the care of life-threatening and commonly occurring conditions.

In North West Province, almost all Covid-19 patients are admitted to the Internal Medicine Department at Tshepong Hospital. It is extremely worrying that at the precise time when the epidemic is rapidly rising, the leader of this Department has been suspended. The best interests of patients, the hospital, and its community are clearly not served by the suspension of Professor Variava. We, therefore, call on the North West Province to immediately withdraw his suspension, and urgently establish a constructive dialogue to resolve their differences without putting any patients at risk. DM

Professor Neil Martinson and Professor Glenda Gray are with the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Professor Gray is also CEO of the SAMRC.

They write here on behalf of themselves and various colleagues who support Professor Veriava.

SIGNATORIES:

  1. Professor Neil Martinson – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of  Witwatersrand, and Johns Hopkins University, Centre for TB Research.
  1. Professor Glenda Gray – SAMRC and Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Shabir Madhi – Respiratory and Meningeal Research Unit, University of Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Sithembiso Velaphi – Clinical Head, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Ian Sanne – Right To Care, University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Professor Sanjay Lala – Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Cheryl Cohen – Director, Centre for Respiratory disease and Meningitis, NICD and University of Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Bavesh Kana – Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Thaks Parbhoo – Department of Internal Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Francois Venter – Divisional Director: Ezintsha, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Danyia Ballot – Head, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Ntobeko Ntusi – Division of Cardiology, University of Cape Town 
  2. Profesor Haroon Saloojee – Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Errol Holland – Clinical medicine, Coronation Hospital, Johannesburg 
  2. Professor Wendy Stevens – NHLS and University of Witwatersrand 
  3. Professor Guy Richards – Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, University of Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Alex van den Heever – Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Ashaf Coovadia – Clinical Head, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Rahima Moosa Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Udai Kala – Paediatric nephrologist, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital,  University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Peter Cooper – Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Yusuf Variawa – Ex head of Medicine, Helen Joseph Hospital, University of  Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Shahed Omar – Intensivist, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, University of the  Witwatersrand
  1. Professor John Gear – Founding Head of School of Public Health and Wits Rural Facility, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Ken Huddle – Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Professor John Rodda – Department of Paediatrics, , Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Professor Gale Sher – Paediatric Neurologist, Donald Gordon Medical Centre 
  2. Professor Marc Mendelson – Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town 
  3. Professor Shaun Wasserman – Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town 
  4. Professor James McIntyre – ANOVA Health Institute, University of Cape Town 
  5. Professor Richard Chaisson – Johns Hopkins University Centre for TB Research, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Professor Lucille Blumberg – University of Pretoria 
  2. Professor Linda Gail Bekker – Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, University of Cape Town 
  3. Professor Raymond Niaura, PhD – Chair (interim), Department of Epidemiology, Departments of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Epidemiology, School of Global Public Health, New York University
  1. Professor Yunus Moosa – Division of Infectious Diseases, University of KZN 
  2. Professor Valerie Mizrahi – Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IDM), University of Cape Town
  1. Professor David B. Abrams – Social and Behavioral Sciences, School of Global Public Health. New York University.
  1. Professor PJ Cardona Unitat de Tuberculosi Experimental Fundació Institut d’Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol, Barcelona, Spain 
  1. Professor Johnathan Golub – Johns Hopkins University Centre for TB Research, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Mr. Mark Heywood – Treatment Action Campaign 
  2. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman – Gift of the Givers, South Africa 
  3. Dr Avye Violari – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand 
  4. Dr Refik Bismilla – Johannesburg Metropolitan Council 
  5. Dr Farouk Mohamed – Family Practitioner, Johannesburg 
  6. Dr Sylvia Cohn – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 
  7. Dr Ravindre Panchia – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr. Firdaus Nabeemeeah – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Ms Minja Milovanovic – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Jenny Coetzee – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Sam Vogt (MD), – Dept of Oncology, Division of Hematologic Malignancies, Johns Hopkins University
  1. Dr Lerato Mohapi – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Aslam Dasoo – Progressive Health Forum 
  3. Dr Farhaan Williams – Community Service Doctor, KTHC 
  4. Dr Nadia Sabet – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand 
  5. Dr Ryan Sabet – Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex, North West Department of Health
  1. Dr Faheem Seedat – Physician, CHBAH, University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Pramone Moodley – Department of Internal Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital
  1. Dr Francesca Conradie – University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Jeremy Nel – Helen Joseph Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand 
  3. Dr Ndiviwe Mpotholo – in personal capacity 
  4. Dr Vivendra Naidoo – Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital 
  5. Dr Martin Davis – Paediatrician 
  6. Dr Michael Greeff – Paediatrician 
  7. Dr Klaus Leschner – Paediatrician 
  8. Dr Nicolette Brown – Paediatrician 
  9. Dr Rajendran Moodley 
  10. Dr. Vikash Makan – Ex Community Service Doctors at KTHC 
  11. Dr Adrienne Wulfsohn – Durban 
  12. Dr David Rakotsoane – Paediatrician 
  13. Dr Madnie Noormohamed – Paediatrician 
  14. Dr Anita Lai – Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital 
  15. Dr Shinny Alimia 
  16. Dr Pramone Moodley – Department of Internal Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital
  1. Dr Juliette Morrow – Ex Community Service, KTHC 
  2. Dr Dorinka Nel – Anaesthetist 
  3. Dr Carla Leiseganag – Helen Joseph Hospital 
  4. Dr Claudio do Vale – Nephrologist 
  5. Dr Shuaib Manjra – University of Cape Town 
  6. Dr Anben Pillay 
  7. Dr Tshepo Dibotelo – Medical Intern, Klerksdorp Tshepong 
  8. Dr Didi Mokgogo 
  9. Dr Fareed Abdullah – SAMRC and Steve Biko Academic Hospital 
  10. Dr Mary Ruhani – Morningside Mediclinic, Johannesburg 
  11. Dr Laila Suleman – Life Kingsbury Hospital, Cape Town 
  12. Dr Jessica Elf – Colorado State University, USA 
  13. Dr June Fabian – School of Clinical Medicine, University of Witwatersrand 
  14. Dr Colleen Hanrahan – Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA
  1. Dr Lebogang Kenaope – Department of Internal Medicine, Rustenburg Hospital, North West Province
  1. Dr Lucas Herman – Bethesda Hospital, KZN 
  2. Dr Tammy Moodley 
  3. Dr Kathy Randeree 
  4. Dr Sham Moodley 
  5. Dr Chimen Lala 
  6. Dr Adnaan Mia – GP, Cape Town 
  7. Dr Anna di Donato Simantov – Zodwa Bridal 
  8. Dr Danelle Jordaan Kirsten – Ex-Community Service, KTHC, North West 
  9. Dr Asmira Davrajh – Community Service, KTHC, North West 
  10. Dr Kate Shearer – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA 
  11. Dr D Govender – Department of Internal Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg
  1. Dr Mark Cotton – Paediatrician 
  2. Dr Sharika Raga – Paediatrician 
  3. Dr Graham Jones – Paediatrician 
  4. Ms. Priya Bhana – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Mr. Klaus Mokoena – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Ms. Anusha Nana – Pharmacist, Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Erica Lazarus – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Ashraf Grimwood – Kheth Ímpilo AIDS- Free Living, Cape Town 
  2. Dr Eesaa Docrat – Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex 
  3. Dr Shaheed Gora – Neurologist, Milpark Hospital 
  4. Dr. Marise Subrayan – Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital
  1. Dr Natalya Dinat 
  2. Dr Justice Gweshe – KlerksdorpTShepong Hospital Complex 
  3. Dr Limakatso Lebina – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  1. Mr Nazeer Alli 
  2. Dr. Kennedy Otwombe – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  1. Dr Imraan Kola – Department of Internal Medicine, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  1. Dr Amina Goga – SA MRC 
  2. Dr Tanvier Omar – NHLS and University of the Witwatersrand 
  3. Dr Lucy Connell – Right To Care, University of the Witwatersrand 
  4. Dr Tumelo Moloantoa – PHRU, University of the Witwatersrand 
  5. Dr K. V. Moodley – retired GP, Chatsworth Durban 
  6. Dr M. A. Khan – General Practitioner, Wolmaranstad 
  7. Dr Regina Osih – Aurum Institute, University of the Witwatersrand 
  8. Dr Solly Lison – CPC Qualicare, Western Cape 
  9. Dr Boshhoff Steenkamp 
  10. Dr Richard Tuft – Executive Director, Radiological Society of South Africa 
  11. Ms. Kgomotso Phohu – Setshaba Research Centre 
  12. Dr Paul Davis – Chair, Aurum Institute 
  13. Dr Sharon Sunny – Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand 
  14. Dr Simba Takuva – PHRU, University of the Witwatersrand 
  15. Dr Lee Fairlie – WRHI, University of the Witwatersrand 
  16. Dr Gary Rubenstein –Division of Infectious Diseases, Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Ms Fatima Mayat – Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Amirah Parak – Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Kagiso Motse – Nephrologist, Department of Internal Medicine, Rustenburg Public Hospital
  1. Dr Titsiana Aduk – Paediatrician, Sunninghill Hospital 
  2. Dr Harriet Etheredge – Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Mantoa Mokhachane – Head, UUME, University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Khatija Ahmed – Setshaba Research Centre, Shoshunguve 
  3. Dr Valencia Simmons – Department of Paediatrics, Klerksdorp Hospital 
  4. Dr Nilesh Lala – Paediatric Cardiologist, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Jennifer Geel – Paediatric Oncologist, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Cristina Vilaplana Unitat de Tuberculosi Experimental, Fundació Institut d’Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol, Barcelona, Spain 
  1. Dr Ahmed Ismail Tayob – Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Andrian Dreyer – Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand 
  2. Dr Ismail Makda – Department of Opthalmology, University of the Witwatersrand 
  3. Dr Yahya Nana – General Practitioner 
  4. Dr Tom de Grieve – Gynaecological Oncologist, Klerksdorp Hospital, North-West Province
  1. Dr Kurai Tsoka – Department of Internal Medicine, Helen Joseph Hospital, University of Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Nicole Salazar-Austin – Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  1. Dr. Ziyaad Dangor – Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
  1. Dr Leon Levine – Retired Paediatrician, Rahima Moosa Hospital 
  2. Dr Arne von Delft – UCT School of Public Health and Medicine 
  3. Dr Dalene von Delft – UCT School of Public Health and Medicine 
  4. Dr Deepak Patel – Paediatrician 
  5. Dr Roshni Naicker – Paediatrician 
  6. Dr J. Pillay – Dentist 
  7. Dr Willy Hendson – Paediatrician 
  8. Dr Alison Baxter – Paediatrician 
  9. Dr Farrah Ismail – Paediatrician 
  10. Dr Debbie Bruce – Paediatrician 
  11. Dr Fikile Mabena – Paediatrician 
  12. Dr Willis Linton – Paediatrician 
  13. Dr Mac Magudumana – Paediatrician 
  14. Dr Phillipa Penfold – Paediatrician 
  15. Dr Shaaikira Chaya – Paediatrician 
  16. Dr Ayesha Khan – Paediatrician 
  17. Dr Ndaye Kapongo – Paediatrician 
  18. Ms. Wieda Human – TB Proof 
  19. Dr Rendani Mamathuba – Paediatrician 
  20. Dr Eduard Bruckman – Paediatrician 
  21. Dr Simba Takuva – Biostatistician, HVTN and PHRU 
  22. Dr Lauren Jankelowitz – CEO, Southern African HIV Clinicians Society 
  23. Dr David Dowdy – Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 
  24. Dr Cain Khosa – Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand 
  25. Ms. Matladi Bothile – Hospersa 
  26. Dr Lenise V. Semedo – Department of Internal Medicine, Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex
  1. Dr N. Coovadia 
  2. Dr Nesri Padayatchi – in personal capacity 
  3. Mr. Desmond Archary 
  4. Dr Stan Samuel – Intern, Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex 
  5. Dr Shaheed V. Omar – National TB Reference Centre, NICD 
  6. Dr Halima Dawood – Head of Infectious Diseases, Grey’s Hospital, KZN 
  7. Dr Jackline Odhiambo – HVTN, Johannesburg 
  8. Dr Simon Strachen – Paediatrician, Johannesburg 
  9. Dr Diane Campbell – Nephrologist, Sunninghill Hospital 
  10. Dr Genevieve Ephraim – Ophthalmic Surgeon, Sunninghill and Garden City Hospitals 
  11. Dr Antony Kinghorn – PHRU, University of the Witwatersrand 
  12. Dr Azraa Ghoor – Paediatrician, Rahima Moosa Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand
    1. Dr Stander – GP, Colesburg, Northern Cape 
    2. Dr Peter Berlyn – Consultant paediatrician, Kimberly Hospital 
    3. Dr Nirvana Pillay – Socialogist, Saurounia, Johannesburg 
    4. Dr Micky Sunnyraj – Department of Internal Medicine, Tembisa Hospital 
    5. Dr Fatima Patel – Johannesburg 
    6. Dr Naeem Moosa – Orthopaedic Surgeon 
    7. Dr Kajal Parbhoo – Paediatrician 
    8. Dr Asma Saloo – Paediatrician 
    9. Dr E. Moosa – Paediatrician 
    10. Dr S. Shunmugam – GP, KZN 
    11. Dr Anver Bulbulya – GP, Johannesburg 
    12. Dr Nirav Patel 
    13. Dr Kaushik Ranchod – Neurologist 
    14. Dr S. Hajee – Microbiologist 
    15. Dr Janine Meares 
    16. Dr Bhavishna Nagar 
    17. Dr Geetesh Vala 
    18. Dr Anushka Naidoo 
    19. Dr T Docrat 
    20. Dr Ebrahim Bawa 
    21. Dr Reshma Badal 
    22. Dr Kirti Ranchod 
    23. Dr Naeem Moosa 
    24. Dr Hemant Makan 
    25. Dr YC Vawda – Ex Member of Parliament, EFF 
    26. Dr Melanie Dance – Paediatrician 
    27. Mr George Lekala – Community Advisory Board Member 
    28. Dr Kate Hopkins – HCRISA, PHD Student 
    29. Mr. Engelbrecht Leroux – HCRISA, PHD Student 
    30. Ms. Lauren Fok – Progressive Healthcare Forum 
    31. Mr. Kagisho Baepanye – Heath Economist, PHRU, University of the Witwatersrand 
    32. Ms. Shamima Poonan – Reflexologist 
    33. Mr. Paris Pitsilledes – Matchboxology, Johannesburg 
    34. Ms. Sarah Martinson – University of Amsterdam, BSc Student 
    35. Mr. Ebrahim Shaikh – Community Member, Klerksdorp 
    36. Mr. Paul Kapelus – Synergy, Johannesburg 
    37. Ms Nicci Kapelus – Teacher, Johannesburg 
    38. Ms. Renee Poragadu – Educator, Regents Park Primary School, Johannesburg 
    39. Ms. Shakeera MH Ismail – personal capacity 
    40. Ms. Katlego Motlhaoleng – CDC, South Africa 
    41. Ms. Zareena Saloojee – retired nurse, Johannesburg 
    42. Mr. Azahr Saloojee – retired school principal, Johannesburg 
    43. Mr. Abdul Kaka – Pharmacist, PHRU, University of the Witwatersrand 
    44. Ms. Liz Wilson-Chandler – Gift of the Givers, University of the Free State 
    45. Mr. Michelle Nebergal 
    46. Azwi Takalan 
    47. Ms. Fatima Bibi Minty – Patient, Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital, North-West 
    48. Mr. Ismail Adam – accountant 
    49. Ms. Resh Lakha 
    50. Ms. Yolandi Fourie 
    51. Ms. Shamelle Govender 
    52. Mr. Oupa Montsioa 
    53. Ruha Variava – teacher 
    54. Mr. Jeff Harrisburg 
    55. Geetesh Solanki – SAMRC 
    56. Ms. Usha Singh – pharmacist 
    57. Mr. Nazeem Akoojee 
    58. Ms. Aasia Vadee 
    59. Ms. Constance Plaatjie 
    60. Ms Fareeda Patel 
    61. Mr. Neelan Jayendra Poonan
    62. Mr. Nitesh Matai 
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