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BMA's gold medal award to the president of the South African Medical Association

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 06 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:396

Is this a travesty?

  1. Simon Lewin, Research fellow (,
  2. Jeanelle de Gruchy, Research fellow
  1. Centre for Epidemiological Research in Southern Africa, Medical Research Council of South Africa and Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  2. Health and Human Rights Project, PO Box 13124, Cape Town 7915, South Africa
  3. BMA, London WCIH 9JP

    EDITOR—We were surprised and disquieted to hear that the BMA awarded its highest honour—the gold medal for distinguished merit—to Bernard Mandell, president of the South African Medical Association, at its annual general meeting last year. Apparently the award was made for Mandell's “distinguished contribution to the understanding of the relationship of medicine and human rights in the national and international spheres.”

    Mandell was chairman of the Medical Association of South Africa's federal council and board of trustees from 1987 to 1998, and from 1975 he was a member of the Federal Council, the highest decision making body of the organisation. For most of the time before 1990 the Medical Association of South Africa was notable in its slavish support of the apartheid government's policies and was condemned both locally and internationally for failing to speak out against human rights abuses in the health sector and in the country in …

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