26 April 1920-6 September 1986

KEYWORDS:

ANATOMY: the science of the structure of bodies of humans, animals, and plants

 

HYGIENE: the science of maintaining good health in clean conditions

 

PATHOLOGY: the branch of medicine that deals with laboratory examination of samples of body tissue

Harry Annamunthodo
Caribbean Icons in STI Volume 1

Sir Harry Annamunthodo was the first West Indian to be appointed to a Chair in the Faculty of Medicine, University College of the West Indies (UCWI) at Mona. He was an outstanding teacher who taught 1500-odd medical graduates over a 25-year period at UWI. He helped to build the Mona Medical Faculty and other medical schools in the Caribbean. As a surgeon, his swiftness and skill were legendary.

Harry Annamunthodo was born in Essequibo, Guyana, on April 26th 1920. As a young boy, he dissected the bodies of dead animals to look for the cause of death. He attended Queen’s College in Georgetown on scholarship and won the British Guiana Scholarship in 1939. He began studies in medicine at the University of London two years later because of World War II. He won several prizes and graduated in 1946. He later obtained the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, England.

Annamunthodo worked at King George V Hospital in Ilford, Essex for two years and was mentored by the renowned abdominal surgeon, Mr. Herman Taylor. In 1953, he entered the UCWI Hospital as Senior Surgical Registrar. He rose through the ranks to Head of Department, and within six years, became the first West Indian Professor of Surgery. This was the most rapid promotion in the Faculty’s history.

He was named Hunterian Professor, Royal College of Surgeons, England, and elected to Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons. In 1967, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for service to medicine and medical education in the Caribbean region.

His skills as a teacher were widely admired. Sir George Alleyne- UWI Chancellor and his former student- said,”His dexterity, calmness, and self-confidence became legendary,” and added that Sir Harry was “approachable and interested… kind and concerned for patients.”

Sir Harry supervised construction of the Mona Medical Faculty building and contributed to it, becoming the “ultimate referral for the Caribbean area”. He helped to set up the Eastern Caribbean Medical Scheme in Trinidad and to coordinate the teaching of surgery in Barbados and the Surgical Residency Programme at Mona.

He was conferred with the status of Professor Emeritus by the UWI, and a final year prize for Surgery was named in his honour. He was appointed Professor of Surgery at the University of Kebangsaan, Malaysia, and developed its postgraduate programme. He held this post until his death in 1986.

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