On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.101 n.6 Cape Town Jun. 2011
Ramesh Chhotu Bhikha (1946 -2010)
Ramesh Chhotu Bhikha was born in Vavra Village, Gujerat, India, on 15 September 1946, and moved to Cape Town when he was 6 years old. He attended Battswood Primary School and South Peninsula High School before proceeding to UCT, where he graduated MB ChB in 1971.
He started his career as a family physician in Worcester in partnership with Dr Faghmi Williams before moving to Cape Town in 1984 to establish a general practice in Crawford. He was a well-loved and an old-fashioned kind of doctor, who provided extensive medical care in all fields of medicine. He took time to know his patients, their families, and their non-medical highs and lows, and was a rare breed of doctor who did house calls until just before the time of his passing.
He was a committed health professional and a competent health care leader, who assisted with the establishment of the Worcester Private Hospital and also founded and directed Gatesville Medical Centre in Cape Town. His service in the public sector included membership of the Boards of Eben Dönges Hospital in Worcester, and later Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. He served on national bodies such as the Medical Association of South Africa and the South African Medical Association with distinction.
In the 1980s, at the time of revolt against the political regime, Ramesh provided health care to many civil unrest victims in Zwelethemba and the Worcester region through his private practice and his association with other general practitioners. In these difficult times, he was known by all as a doctor who would never turn anyone away, no matter the time or circumstances. In recognition of his role in the struggle for a just South Africa, he earned a place on the African National Congress list for the 1994 Parliamentary elections.
Throughout his life, Ramesh was a philanthropist. As a student, he generously transported classmates around the peninsula for academic and social activities; as an intern, he donated a suction machine to St Monica's Hospital; and as a member of society, he served several community organisations, including the Toevlug Rehabilitation Centre, Community Chest, Cape Hindu Cultural Society, Wonderland Pre-School, and Westerford High School, serving on its Board of Governors.
He was knowledgeable about many religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and the Bahai faith and loved visiting the temples of India, music, and travelling to all corners of the world. His passion for cars - especially Jaguars - took him to many international motor shows, and his interest in aeroplanes even led to a visit to the Boeing factory.
Ramesh died suddenly on 27 August 2010, and he is sorely missed by his many family members, friends, colleagues, and the thousands of patients whose lives he touched.
He is survived by his mother, Rukshmani, his wife Navleta Usha, and his daughters Priya, Reshma and Seema.