LETTER : Our locum was Hastings Banda

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From Mr Patrick McVeigh Sir: In 1957 my parents were living in Kumasi, Ghana, where I was a sickly one-year-old child. As my condition worsened my mother decided to call out our local GP; but, unfortunately, because there was a local horse race, he was on duty as the course vet. This meant that his locum, one Dr. Hastings Banda, arrived at the bungalow and, taking a look at me and the three vultures on the roof, announced that "white women make too much fuss when their children die" and proposed to do nothing more for me.

My mother, fortunately much underwhelmed by his advice, took me to the local hospital, where two Polish doctors quickly diagnosed that I had, in fact, got cerebral malaria, which at the time was responsible for killing a large number of the children under two in Ghana. I made a full recovery. Time has at last caught up with Dr Banda, even though my mother has had to wait until he is 90 to see him in the dock.

Yours faithfully, PATRICK McVEIGH London, W12

16 January

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