Durban: The University of KwaZulu Natal has described final-year medical students and twins Ashiq and Ishq Pramchand as inspirational.
And that they are.
The brothers are part of the top five best performing medical students in the class of 2021 but can also add authors and businessmen to their names.
Their story started when the duo matriculated from Crawford College, La Lucia, with honours.
Both learners received scholarships from UKZN.
According to UKZN, Ishq placed first nationally for private schools and first in Crawford Advtech group nationally and was awarded the UKZN Pius Langa Scholarship and the Undergraduate Scholarship for his final year.
His brother Ashiq was equally impressive, taking third place in the NSC exams for pupils from independent schools, scooping distinctions for all his subjects, and was awarded the UKZN merit scholarship.
Both brothers recently completed their final year of study at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine with a host of Deans’ commendations and distinctions in their academic careers.
Apart from medicine, the twins are keen pianists, with over 17 years of classical training and a host of gold and silver awards from local eistedfods and Trinity College London.
Ishq is currently studying towards an ATCL performance diploma through Trinity College, which is equivalent to a first-year recital of an undergraduate degree.
“I am very passionate about music, and I feel that it perfectly complements the art of medicine. Our musical studies were made possible through Ms Phillipa Greenwood, a fierce musician and family friend.”
Ashiq has a passion for medical writing and published his first book earlier this year, titled The Great Medical Student Odyssey- Tales and Adventures in Medical School.
The 194 pager, which is a biography of his journey at the medical school, illustrates the incredible adventure and harsh realities of medical students in South Africa.
Ashiq was also inspired to pursue medical research while serving as a research placement at the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) laboratories.
His passion resulted in three publications - two with Pulse magazine and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and one with the Harvard Medical Student Review Journal.
As top medical students at UKZN, the Pramchand twins created a student organisation on campus to improve the speaking and writing skills of healthcare professionals through the development of lectures and study resources for students. The club, BROCA, also produces a student magazine called the BROCA Times, which is distributed to students.
The brothers also played an active role in UKZN’s South African Medical Students Association (SAMSA), serving in various portfolios.
Through SAMSA, they formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, an NGO, which builds homes for disadvantaged rural communities. While working in rural Umgababa, the Pramchands were instrumental in Tuberculosis education and awareness, as well as arranging free HIV testing for community members.
The twins are also keen sportsmen.
Both learnt Northern and Southern Kung Fu styles at the Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre in Durban, with Ishq also having completed one year of Tai Chi/Qi-Gong training.
In 2013, the twins also represented the KwaZulu-Natal team at the Table tennis championships in Bloemfontein.
Both both also completed the Midmar Mile at ages 11 and 12.
With a full schedule, the young doctors still found time to create and manage a small technology company called ZavourIT, which creates Apps to help South Africans find solutions to unemployment.
Ashiq said: “In my spare time, I enjoy playing tennis, practising swordsmanship, meeting friends, watching good movies, playing video games, exercising, writing, travelling, learning new languages and reading.”
He is also a television presenter and voice actor for a local show called African Essence, which raises awareness about important human interest stories in South Africa.
Ishq, who speaks conversational Japanese, which he learnt throughout his travels in the Far East, said: “I enjoy travelling during holidays, language learning, dramatic arts and theatre, reading (fascination with Lord of the Rings and the writings of JRR Tolkien), and family time is very important to me. Watching movies and going out with friends are a must every Friday. Playing a game of tennis at least once a week with Ashiq is great for a mental reset. I also love green tea.”
In his book, Ashiq details their adventures as medical students: “Thousands of hours are spent at the bedside and in the operating theatre. Blood will be drawn. Tutorials will be attended. Friendships will be forged in the wards-those democracies of appearance. You will see patient gowns, devastated and relieved complexions, tubes and IV lines.
“In this crucible, where life is renewed and taken away, we witness some of life's most beautiful and crushing moments. These places are autoclaves for the soul, where pressure, high patient case loads, and low resources purify us-they force us to abandon or challenge our vices to help others. These experiences are life-changing and profound. In my anecdotes, I try to capture this profoundness… the clinical years is where the real adventure begins.”
Both boys attribute their passion for medicine to their dad, medical doctor Mahendra Pramchand.
“Our passion for medicine stems from a very young age, inspired by our father, who always selflessly and passionately treated his patients. His love for medicine and people still continues to inspire us.
“We also thank our mum, Advocate Nalini Govender, for her ongoing support throughout our studies.”
In terms of their future plans, the twins are keen to travel to exotic destinations such as Mongolia but also look forward to serving their medical internships next year and specialising in the coming years. Ishq is keen to specialise in surgery or internal medicine, while Ashiq is exploring a surgical speciality.