South Africa is grieving the passing of Professor Harry Seftel, a revered medical figure, whose lifetime of dedication to healthcare and education spanned over five decades. Prof Seftel, aged 94, passed away just before his anticipated 95th birthday, leaving behind a legacy that transcends his medical accomplishments.
As President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed profound sadness over Seftel’s demise, he highlighted the significant impact Seftel made on the nation. Ramaphosa hailed him as a national treasure, emphasizing Seftel’s pivotal role in shaping the country’s healthcare landscape.
President @CyrilRamaphosa has been saddened by the passing of veteran clinician, researcher and academic Prof Harry Seftel. https://t.co/iF3YbuhobF
— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) December 3, 2023
President Ramaphosa said: “Prof Seftel’s passing at the end of an extended life with which he was blessed, is another instance of loss among a generation that defined the South Africa of the 20th century.
“Prof Seftel’s life journey includes his university-days friendship with Nelson Mandela.
“Harry Seftel’s journey was one of continuous curiosity and discovery with the aim of assisting individuals and entire communities to make healthy lifestyle choices and enjoy a healthy life.
“He was a relentless achiever who passionately educated generations of medical practitioners and researchers. He will be remembered for sharing his knowledge in the most accessible and entertaining ways which endeared him to his students and millions of people who learned from him via public platforms.
“Harry Seftel was a national treasure whose love for his work and for the people of South Africa must be celebrated at this time of mourning and remembrance and must live on in the ethos of all health care professionals.”
Seftel’s remarkable journey began as a teacher, clinician, and researcher at the University of Witwatersrand’s Department of Medicine. Beyond academia, he was renowned for his groundbreaking work on chronic lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. His passion for public health echoed through his educational endeavors and popular health education shows on Radio 702 and SABC, where he engaged and informed millions.
The Faculty mourns the passing of Professor Harry Seftel, distinguished professor of medicine at @WitsUniversity. Renowned for making complex medical issues accessible to all, Prof. Seftel was a passionate advocate for health promotion. pic.twitter.com/wUBzErk5nV
— Wits Faculty of Health Sciences (@WitsHealthFac) December 3, 2023
Ramaphosa commemorated Seftel’s friendship with Nelson Mandela during their university years, underscoring Seftel’s commitment to fostering healthy lifestyles for individuals and communities. The President highlighted Seftel’s unique ability to impart knowledge in an engaging and accessible manner, endearing him to countless students and the broader public.
Prof Seftel’s impact extended beyond academia; he actively contributed to infectious disease control and public health advocacy, leaving an indelible mark on South Africa’s healthcare landscape.
As the nation mourns this colossal loss, Prof Harry Seftel’s legacy lives on, inspiring future healthcare professionals to uphold his ethos of dedicated service and accessible medical education for all.