A doctor from Bradford Royal Infirmary said he was ‘incredibly humbled’ after learning of the news that he was to be honoured with his home country’s highest civilian honour.
Dr Sulleman Moreea, originally from Mauritius, was awarded the Grand Officer of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean award earlier this month from the President of the African nation.
Since 2008 he has worked closely with Mauritius’ Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam, and the country’s Ministry of Health, to introduce, train and improve endoscopies across the five hospitals.
Having done much of the work at his own expense, including travel, equipment, and training, and all in his own time, Dr Moreea was told he was to receive a medal for his efforts yet never expected to receive such a prestigious accolade.
“It was on Sunday 9th March that I got a phone call from the Mauritius Prime Minister telling me the country was going to give me a medal for the work I had done and it would be announced on Wednesday 12th,” he said.
“I was obviously full of pride but I told him that I may not be able to make it at such short notice as I hadn’t booked any time off.
“It was actually my family and co-workers who insisted I went. My colleagues were amazing, they took care of all my work that week because they said it was a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity I couldn’t miss’.”
He added: “When the list was announced and I saw which medal I was to receive I was incredibly humbled, shocked and surprised.
“I would have felt extremely privileged to receive any medal but this one has certainly acted as motivation for me to finish what I started in the country.”
Dr Moreea first began working in Mauritius six years ago after organising one-to-one training following a discussion with the country’s Prime Minister, who is also a former doctor at the Yorkshire Clinic.
His work across the five hospitals has helped improve the operating standards significantly whilst endoscopies can now be performed in units which previously didn’t even exist.
In one hospital, in the south of the country, Dr Moreea not only paid for an architect to design a room which could cater for endoscopy facilities but also paid for the equipment.
Running since 2012, and officially opened in 2013, it has so far performed more than 600 cases.
Yet, Dr Moreea insists that single achievements like this are not what he is most proud of.
“Unfortunately, with Mauritius being a small country and having a lot of private health care, people previously did not like to share their knowledge and talents with others,” he explained.
“If you said to me, ‘what am I most proud of, teaching people how to do endoscopy or changing the mind-set of the people’, I’d say I’m much more proud of the latter.
“Hospitals work best when people help each other and I like to believe that I have helped change the culture in Mauritius which will only benefit the next generation of doctors.
“At the end of the day, I do this because I enjoy it. I enjoy teaching, I enjoy seeing people making progress and I enjoy seeing the country making an effort to help its people.”