Mirza Datoo: Ismaili Doctor honoured in Australia

Ismaili doctor who spent 35 years working in rural Australia honoured by government

It makes me feel like a bloody Aussie” Dr. Datoo

BY SULTAN JESSA

Mirza Datoo: Ismaili Doctor honoured in Australia
Dr Mirza Datoo

Dr. Mirza Datoo, who hails from a tiny village in northern Tanzania, has been recognized by the Australian government.

The former Cootamundra general practitioner has been presented with the Medal of the Order of Australia for years of service to medicine in rural New South Wales.

In all 14 general practioners were honoured for more than 500 years of combined service to the country. He can now proudly add the letters OAM after his name.

“It makes me feel like a bloody Aussie,” said an elated Dr. Datoo.

He knew he was going to attract attention when he arrived in rural Australia in the 1970s after studying medicine.

He arrived in the western New South Wales town of Harden and stayed there for the next 25 years.

Mirza Datoo: Ismaili Doctor honoured in Australia
The young Dr Datoo

Many in harden’s population of a few thousand were grateful to gave a medical doctor in their town.

As expected, he faced some resistance because of his skin colour.

“I mean they were just saying openly they didn’t want a black person to be their doctor.”

The mainly redneck farmers were bent on driving him out of town.

But, he chose to stand his ground.

Eventually, a New South Wales health minister had to intervene and Dr. Datoo could stay.

A few years later, many of the people who opposed him became his patients.

Dr. Datoo was often called to attend emergencies in the middle of the night and had to drive 70 kilometers to the scene of an accident.

Mirza Datoo: Ismaili Doctor honoured in Australia
Dr Mirza Datoo and his wife Sheryn

He stabilized his patients before they could be airlifted to a major hospital.

He married a local girl and spent 35 years practicing medicine.

He was the only doctor for many years and was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergencies.

“When you start delivering the kids of the kids you delivered, then you know you’re getting bloody old.”

Dr. Datoo was part of the initial group of doctors to establish healthcare under one roof at the Cootamundra Medical Centre in 2008.

Mirza Datoo: Ismaili Doctor honoured in Australia
Dr Datoo and Sheryn go over old memories

Speaking about his award, Dr. Datoo said he is really honoured his dream worked out.

“I was looking for a new beginning when I first came to Australia. All the discrimination made me feel unhappy.”

Dr. Datoo is not too happy with the way medicine is practiced now.

A lot of Australian doctors are unwilling to go to remote areas, he pointed out.

“This is a terrible thing.”

He said the honour bestowed on his is a fitting reward for someone who embraced his adopted home so fervently.

He retired in 2011 and now resides in Canberra with his wife Sheryn.

The couple has four children.

 

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, its achievements and humanitarian works.

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