With the passing of Dr Prasada Rao Gattu, the medical profession in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has lost one of its greatest minds.
This is the opinion of at least two of his medical colleagues, Dr Twanna Browne-Caesar and Dr Rao Kakumanu.
After arriving in SVG from India in 1970, Dr Rao was appointed District Medical Officer (DMO) and assigned to the Cedars Medical District. Four years later, he was transferred to the Calliaqua District. While he was the DMO in Calliaqua, he also worked at the prisons, the Lewis Punnett Home and the Leprosy Asylum.
During this time, he was also asked to cover the pediatrics department of the then Kingstown General Hospital as there was no pediatrician there for some time. Since he had a diploma in Child Health, he happily took on this responsibility. He was also called upon from time to time to work in the Accident and Emergency Department at the Kingstown General Hospital.
While employed with the Ministry of Health, he worked part time at his private clinic in Arnos Vale during his free hours. He went into full time private practice when he retired from the Government service in 1993. He closed his clinic in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He passed away on December 18, 2022.
Dr Browne-Caesar, who had the opportunity to work with Dr Rao, described him as having a wealth of knowledge.
“A tremendous source of knowledge, patient, willing to mentor, and could rapidly analyze a clinical picture and narrow the differential to come up with a prompt accurate diagnosis,” Browne-Caesar said.
She added, “he willingly shared his knowledge and expertise. He cared for his patients without discrimination for their social or economic status and he was always pleasant, efficient and willing to listen.”
Browne-Caesar said she was glad she had the opportunity to interact with Dr Rao outside of her childhood experience as the opportunity to work closely and co-manage several patients with him was a learning experience.
“Our offices were right next door each other and there was always useful feedback and it was an opportunity to learn in a non-intimidating environment,” Browne-Caesar said while noting that they worked together since 2015.
“I think the medical profession in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has lost one of their greatest medical minds. I thank his family for allowing St Vincent and the Grenadines to benefit from his expertise,” Browne-Caesar told SEARCHLIGHT.
Dr Rao Kakumanu said he not only shared the same name with Dr Rao but they were colleagues.
Dr Rao Kakumanu said he practiced medicine in SVG for about 40 years and while he was known as “Questelles Rao”, Dr Prasada Rao Gattu was “Arnos Vale Rao” because of the areas from which they operated.
“I knew Dr Rao when I came in 1975 and he received me at the airport from India.
“He was a very devoted, hard working doctor and I never came across, in my life, anyone like him who was so devoted to his patients.
“The medical profession has lost someone very important. I learnt a lot from him,” Dr Kakumanu said while adding that Dr Prasada Rao Gattu would usually give him advice in terms of patients’ care.
“He was always very helpful and knowledgeable,” Dr Kakumanu said, while adding that he once asked him why he didn’t take holidays.
“He told me that there is pleasure in going places and holidays but he had more pleasure in seeing patients and looking after them than thinking about his own personal happiness and holidays.”
Dr Kakumanu said that Dr Rao was not only concerned about treating patients and sending them home, but also very interested in following up on his charges and making sure they were doing well in an all-round holistic manner.