Zimbabwe Medical Graduates Worldwide

Professor Michael Gelfand
(1912 - 1985)

The Foundation

The Foundation was established in 1986 in memory of the Late Professor Michael Gelfand OBE, CBE, Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester, MD (Cape Town), FRCP, DPH (London), DMR, Hon. LLD (Zimbabwe and Birmingham), Hon. DLitt (Cape Town).

It is a charitable organisation, welfare number 15/86, with a Board of Trustees whose services are voluntary. Trustees include representatives of the University of Zimbabwe Medical School, of business and professional interests, and Specialists in general practice. Our present Chairman is Dr. Paul Neill, M.B.Ch.B (UZ) MRCP (UK).

Professor Gelfand was essentially a practical man and the Foundation's objects are practical too; its main aim is to fund postgraduate training and research.

Since the start of annual awards in 1993 a total of Z$1,477 million has been given to Zimbabwean doctors for postgraduate study: for 4 months, one year and three-year courses, in the following spheres: Ear, Nose & Throat, Clinical Biochemistry, Radiology, Pathology and Ophthalmology. In 1999 it is poposed to offer a grant for research and financial support towards short-term postgraduate medical training.

The Late Professor Michael Gelfand:

Professor Gelfand was born in Wynberg, Cape Province, South Africa, in 1912, of immigrant Lithuanian parents, and he died on the 12th July, 1985, while attending a patient in the Avenues Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe.

After qualifying in South Africa and working there and in England, in 1939 he joined the then-Southern Rhodesia Medical Service as Physician, Pathologist and Radiologist. He had married a Bulawayo girl, Esther Kollenberg, whom he had met at Cape Town University, and it was natural that, when their first child was due (they eventually had three girls), they decided to join Esther's parents in Rhodesia. Once in government service he quickly gained a reputation by being the only doctor to diagnose correctly the illness of the wife of the Head of the Medical Services!

In 1962 he joined the then-University of Rhodesia as founding Professor of African Medicine. From 1970 until his retirement, in 1977, he was Professor and Head of Department of Medicine, and thereafter Emeritius Professor and Senior Clinical Research Fellow.

In 1955 he founded the Central African Journal of Medicine with Joseph Ritchken, and remained its co-editor for many years.

He was a prolific writer: 330 articles and monographs in various journals on topics ranging from medicine, ethics, philosophy, history and religion, to Shona custom, religion and culture. He wrote more than 30 books, amongst them "The Sick African" and "Livingstone, the Doctor".

He is remembered in Zimbabwe with admiration and affection. Esther Gelfand, his widow, still lives in Harare, in the same house they shared together for so many years.

The Appeal:

Capital built up since 1986 now totals Z$2,4 million. Deloitte & Touche, Chartered Accountants, Harare, act as Hon. Treasurer. There is always a need to increase capital to meet increasing costs, particularly in the face of the current extreme depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar. Donations in hard currency, of whatever value, would be greatly appreciated! The Foundation is a firmly established organisation carrying out a practical and worthwhile job, in commemoration of a man of renown.

Any persons wishing to help should send their contribution to:-

Admin. Secretary,
Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation,
P.O. Box CY230,


Michael Gelfand Medical Research Foundation,
Barclays Bank,
Kurima House Branch,
Account no: 2133 2584715.

This appeal is an opportunity for Zimbabweans abroad (and all those interested in supporting sound development in Africa) to help in a very positive way!

All donations will be acknowledged.

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This page last updated 15 May 1999