UKZN medical student adds another feather to cap with top national medical award

UKZN medical student, Mohamed Hoosen Suleman at the US CDC Office in Hanoi, Vietnam. VinUniversity, Vietnam

UKZN medical student, Mohamed Hoosen Suleman at the US CDC Office in Hanoi, Vietnam. VinUniversity, Vietnam

Published Jul 5, 2024


Durban — University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine final-year student, Mohamed Hoosen Suleman, has added another accolade to his name.

Suleman recently received the South African Top Five National Medical Students Award.

This is according to a statement issued by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Alliance of the South African Independent Practitioners Association (ASAIPA).

ASAIPA recently announced the list and hosted the prestigious awards ceremony, where Suleman was officially conferred the honour.

He was the only winner from KZN.

Distinguished guests and health care professionals graced the awards event countrywide in attendance with six international guests of honour invited. Among others, world-renowned chief surgeon and entrepreneur Professor Shafi Ahmed was a guest of honour.

The awards event took place alongside the Smart Health Summit in Johannesburg on June 28 and 29.

The alliance, through its executive committee, applied stringent criteria for the selection, considering academic results and reports, leadership roles and duties, and community service and upliftment.

Various heads of departments at the UKZN Medical School congratulated Suleman on the award.

The Department of Health in KZN also extended its congratulatory remarks to him on the award.

“Suleman’s remarkable academic achievements and outstanding contributions to health excellence in the country have truly set him apart. His accolades, coupled with his dedication and perseverance, have distinguished him as an ideal candidate for the South African Top Five National Medical Students Award. His continued passion and endless drive for academic excellence serve as an inspiration not only to his colleagues and peers but to the medical fraternity at large. This award serves as a testament to his exceptional talent, leadership, and commitment to advancing medicine and science in South Africa,” ASAIPA said in a statement.

Reacting to receiving the SA Top Five National Medical Students Awards, Suleman said: “It is truly an honour and a privilege for me to receive this token of national recognition. I remain humbled and deeply grateful to the ASAIPA Executive Committee for the selection and for deeming me worthy of such an accolade. I am equally grateful to my parents and siblings for their continuous support and encouragement. The award will serve as a means of motivation for me to keep contributing to healthcare betterment in some small way.”

Suleman, whose professional CV already spans over 54 pages, continues to demonstrate academic excellence with exemplary leadership qualities. His exceptional track record has not gone unnoticed.

He is a multi-awarding winning youth leader in the healthcare sector and an activist whose efforts have been recognised locally and internationally for his contributions to healthcare betterment in SA.

Suleman is widely known as a student who truly embodies UKZN’s core principles and ideals of inspiring greatness.

His work towards curtailing the spread of antimicrobial resistance has already been recognised and rewarded by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Suleman recently returned from Austria, where he was invited by the Medical University of Graz to present his article on vaccines alongside his colleague Saien Govender. He also participated in many round table discussions speaking on pressing health issues and his views on the state of health in the country.

Medical students from 35 countries were also present, each sharing their latest research findings in different fields of immunology, microbiology, oncology, infectious diseases and vaccinology.

Among Suleman’s most notable achievements is being awarded the prestigious Changemaker Scholarship at the WHO Convention in May 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.

He was shortlisted to represent the country in the medical youth delegation to the WHO in both 2022 and 2023 at the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva. This meeting forms the highest decision-making body of the WHO.

While in Geneva, Suleman also met with former Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla and discussed South Africa’s approach to responding to the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance has been dubbed the silent pandemic and one of the world’s top ten health security challenges.

Suleman was also awarded the 2023 South African Health Excellence Rising Star Award by the South African Clinicians’ Scientists Society and Clinix Health Group.

Last December, Inside Education awarded him the 100 South African Shining Stars Award.

The Mail and Guardian, in its 17th edition, ranked Suleman among South Africa’s Top 200 Young South Africans under 35.

Over the years, UKZN has also bestowed multiple honours on Suleman.

Amongst others, he was announced as the dual recipient of the Best Student Researcher and Best Student Innovator awards for two consecutive years.

He remains an inspiration to many aspiring doctors very early in his professional career.

His work has yielded him special invitations to speak on the state of the South African public health system in countries such as Denmark, Switzerland, and Oman.

Suleman is also an Editorial Board Member for the International Journal of Medical Students (IJMS).

He is widely recognised and lauded for his academic excellence, leadership roles and community service.

The Mail and Guardian also invited Suleman to be a speaker at their Inaugural Youth Summit which took place in Sandton on June 27.

The summit served as a nexus, bringing together the youth, corporate entities, government bodies, civil society representatives, and exhibitors. Suleman was invited to speak in the health category.

Earlier this year, Suleman participated in the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa)/ VinUniversity Exchange Programme in Hanoi, Vietnam, an initiative put together by chief medical epidemiologist and scientist Professor Salim Abdool Karim.

Suleman and Govender, spent two weeks in Vietnam observing the country’s health care trends and how this contrasts with health care delivery in SA.

They also engaged in high-level discussions with medical specialists on research relating to epidemiology, pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

Visiting specialists from Harvard Medical School and Columbia University in the USA were also present.

The focus of the exchange programme was to enhance professional development and strengthen the bilateral relations between Caprisa and VinUniversity.

In 2018, Suleman obtained his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree with Honours at the UKZN, graduating summa cum laude. He also obtained distinctions for every module in every semester.

In the same year, he received the 50th Anniversary Endowment Scholarship Award, which is given to only one student in the College of Health Sciences at UKZN and is based solely on academic merit.

In addition to being a high-level academic achiever, Suleman is a devoted community servant, avid public speaker and advocate for change.

He hopes to specialise after completing the mandatory years of internship and community service in the medical field.

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