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Photo Norman Levy

Norman Levy - passed away 24/10/2018

After 45 years in family practice in Sea Point and Cape Town, Norman’s joined the industry as medical advisor for Bankmed in 1988. During his 18 year tenure with Bankmed, in conjunction with Dr. Jalal Dhansay of Medscheme, he was instrumental in starting the first regular monthly clinical meetings with other medical advisors. They found sponsors and had various experienced specialists to give a presentation at those meetings.

Norman was also involved with the so-called ‘Contract Practice Committee of MASA’ and was elected to the then ‘S.A. Medical and Dental Council’. He also served as President of MASA and was on the Federal Council as well. He was also instrumental in setting up the Faculties of The Royal College of General Practice in South Africa, which were the Cape of Good Hope Faculty followed by the Midland and Witwatersrand Faculties. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College (FRCGP) in recognition of his efforts.

He had good working relationships with other medical advisors also involved with MASA, including Des Sonnenfeld, J.J.du Toit, Les Cooper, Jonathan Gluckman, Sholem Kay and various others. He recalls a very important time in MAG’s creation when people like Des Sonnenfeld and himself, who held senior positions in MASA, became medical advisors they were regarded as ‘traitors’. They decided to lend an air of respectability to MAG by getting MAG recognised as an official Sub-Group of MASA despite some animosity from others in MASA.

Norman has been married to Myra for 63 years and they have a son, who has taken over his family practice, a daughter, and two grandchildren.

Norman’s interests have subsequently shifted to other creative pursuits, having formally studied a life-long pastime in Classical History and graduated with an M. Phil. degree in Ancient Cultures from Stellenbosch University in 2008. He became interested in the Fountains of Rome, and he and Myra have managed to photograph nearly all the Fountains during their visits to Europe over 10 years. He has also given talks on this at various organisations including the Dante Alighieri Society and Friends of Italy Society.

He is Chairman of the Somerset Hospital Facility Board and is active in the Atlantic Seaboard chapter of the U3A (University of the Third Age).

Photo Des Sonnenfeld

Des Sonnenfeld

Des recalls starting the Medical Advisors Group around 1986-7 with monthly meetings and an annual conference until the Group was formally constituted as a sub-group of MASA, with Normal Levy as the first Chairman.

After school, Des became a Petty Officer in the SANF, and studied at the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School from 1945-8, completing his degree at Guys Hospital in London in 1951. He was awarded the medal for surgery. He returned to South Africa in 1954, working in the mining industry, and obtained the DTM&H at Wits in 1964. He was a GP in Nigel from 1966-74 and also obtained the MFGP and the M Prax Med at the University of Pretoria.  He was a GP in Bedfordview from 1974-80, and then became Medical Director at Boehringer Ingelheim untill 1985.

In 1987 he became part-time medical advisor to Medicaid Medical Aid, which was taken over by Medscheme.  Thereafter he was involved in full-time and part-time GP and medical advisory work including KPMG, Liberty Life, Spectramed, Northern Medical Aid, and MSO. In the mid 1990’s he worked at RAMS (now BHF) and started the Fraud Committee. He then went back to GP work in Bedfordview until 2000.

He has been compiling his own bird book from pictures in Country Life for the past 10 years, is a member of the Light Music Society and Vice-Chairman of his residents committee.

Photo Harry Seftel

Harry Cecil Seftel

Prof Seftel has been involved with MAG for about the last 20 years, an association starting with Des Sonnenfeld. He holds BSc, MB BCh, Dip Med, and LLD Honoris causa degrees. His professional life has been dedicated to research and the undergraduate and postgraduate education and training of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and allied health professionals, although he is more publically lauded for his social education initiatives across all media profiles, including lecturing.

His emphasis has been on chronic lifestyle diseases including hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia, obesity, arterial disease and cancer, and their associations with diet, alcohol, and tobacco, and - at the age of 87 what he still lives in antithesis of – sloth. His other interests have included rational and cost-effective medical therapeutics / interventions, infectious diseases and antimicrobial therapy, and heat stroke in miners.

He remains, amongst others, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Professor of Clinical Research, and Professor of African Diseases (all at the University of the Witwatersrand), Honorary Life President of the Society of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes of Southern Africa [SEMDSA], Executive Committee member of the Hypertension Society of Southern Africa and the Lipid and Atherosclerosis Society of Southern Africa, and Chairman of the South African Council against Smoking. His last medical advisory position was with Medscheme, and he is still regularly attends MAG meetings and does occasional consultations with the medical aid industry.

Prof Seftel is the author and co-author of more than 200 publications in the fields of endocrinology, metabolism, diabetes, cardiology, haematology, nephrology, nutrition, pharmacology, community medicine and infective diseases.

He was born, bred, educated and worked in Johannesburg his whole life. He is married to Effie, also a doctor, for 57 years. They share a mutual interest in lifestyle problems. They had 5 children, one of whom is a specialist physician also involved in research in California.

He still lives in Parktown, from where he used to walk to the Johannesburg and Hillbrow hospitals. His earlier hobbies included weeding, house-cleaning and running, but now he maintains an active interest in the politics and economies of the world, especially China.

Photo Les Cooper

Leslie Cooper

Les was one of the founders of the Medical Advisors Group with Des Sonnenfeld.

He qualified in 1947 at Wits and practiced in Orange Grove and Sandown (at the present site of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange). He was chairman of the university soccer club for 3 years and captained the under-21 team for 2 years. He served on the executive committee of South African General Practice, which was replaced by the current Academy of Family Practice, for which he served on the national committee for 6 years. He was also an associate founder of the College of Medicine.

He also obtained the MFGP and DOH qualifications. He still attends the Academy of Family Practice seminars and the Department of Medicine academic meetings, and remains a regular supporter of the MAG monthly meetings and conferences.

Les is a charter member and still very active in Lions International for 53 years. He was awarded the Melvin Jones fellowship for dedicated humanitarian services in 2009.

Photo Johan Snyman

Johan Snyman

Johan joined the industry from general practice in 1991 as the first HMO in the Eastern Cape for the textile workers of Port Elizabeth.  His first MAG meeting was in August 1992 where he met colleagues like Des Sonnenfeld. Lesley Cooper, Egbert Prinsloo and Prof Harry Seftel.

He obtained the MPrax Med from the University of Pretoria and is registered with the FCFP(SA).

In 2000 he relocated to Johannesburg to join Fedsure Health, working with Professor Jan van der Merwe in the Board of Healthcare Executives as a research fellow and developing clinical protocols. After a hiatus with smaller schemes, he became medical advisor at Bestmed Medical Scheme in 2002, at Universal Health from 2009 to 2011, and part-time for Resilience Health from 2010 to 2012, focusing specifically on spinal surgery and spinal rehabilitation.  His last move was to Medical Services Organisation (MSO) in 2012 where he still works part-time since moving down to George in the Western Cape in 2014.

He is married to Yvonne and they have two children.  Their son Johan is an anaesthesiologist at the Toronto Gen Hospital in Canada. Their daughter Hanré is an occupational therapist currently working as a hand therapist at the Loma Linda University's Occupational Therapy Department in California.  

Johan took a keen interest in the affairs of the Medical Association and was chairman of the Eastern Province branch for almost 12 years, serving on the Science Committee and the Finance Committee, and was elected national president of SAMA in 1997. He was a founder member of the Academy of Family Practitioners of South Africa, serving on the executive committee for a number of years, and is still an active member. He also served on the HPCSA from 1999 till 2004.

Johan and Yvonne enjoy walking in the beautiful surroundings of the Garden Route and exploring remote gravel roads in their 4x4. 

Photo Peter Baker

Peter Baker

Peter is currently retired though remain on the board of the CMP as Medical Adviser and Board of Alphenvale Village.

He graduated MB.ChB. UCT 1958 and FRCS(SA) 1965 FRCS(Edin) 1966 FACS 1982.

Below is a short summary of Peter's CV:


  • Lecturer Surgery UCT Med School 1966
  • Junior Consultant (Full Time) Groote Schuur Hospital 1966
  • Private practice general surgery 1967 with part time consultant and lecturer posts at GSH and UCT Medical School
  • Senior Consultant GSH 1974 (part time)
  • Senior Consultant Victoria Hospital 1978 (part time)
  • Registration: Board of Medicine (Massachusetts) 1979
  • Fellow of American College of Surgeons 1982
  • Member of Breast Cancer Group and Vascular Society 1966 - 2016
  • Member of Endoscopic Surgical Society 1998 - 2016
  • Member and Vice Chair Western Cape branch of the Medical Association and Victoria Hospital Advisory Committee
  • Appointed by MASA to Board of Directors of Cape Medical Aid Society 1974
  • Vascular Laser Diploma and Diploma in Pharmaco-Economics 1992

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy

Jim worked for Barlow Rand/ Barloworld group for 32 years in various roles.

He worked in the mining industry for 7 years dealing with Trauma, Anaesthetics, Tropical Diseases as well as running a mine hospital.

This was followed by a move to the industrial division overseeing Occupational Health, Primary Health Care for employees and upscaling the AIDS strategy.

He was a Trustee and Principal Officer of the Barloworld Medical Scheme as well as Chairman of its ex gratia committee.

Jim joined the Medial Advisors Group in 1996 and soon afterwards became secretary as well as organizer of the Gauteng meetings and Annual Conference until 2004. During this period, multiple sponsors became a feature of the conference with Cape Town slotted in every 3 years.

Jim has now retired and he and his wife Hilary enjoy visiting the wildlife parks of Southern Africa.

Pam Otto

Pam Otto

Pam started her professional nursing career in 1954. She obtained extensive experience across the world in many disciplines of adult, paediatric, medical and surgical nursing. Her holidays were spent touring the world, and even included attending a Queen’s afternoon Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

Back in South Africa, she worked at two Primary Care Clinics in Springs and in theatre at the Springs Nursing Home, the Chamber of Mines Hospital, Brenthurst Clinic and the Princess Nursing Home.

In1965, she worked for the Johannesburg City Health Department in orthopaedics at the Non-European Hosp. (NEH), Coronation, Natalspruit, Thembisa, Edenvale, and Baragwanath Hospitals, as well as the Bara. Paediatric Orthopaedic OPD Appliance Clinic and the NEH, and Coronation Clubfoot Clinics.

She also lectured at the Baragwanath Hospital Nursing School to the Post Graduate Orthopaedic Nursing Students and the Community Health Students at the Technicon. Pam resigned in 1974 prior to the arrival of her daughter, and did some voluntary work in the Orthopaedic Dept.

From 1981 she was manager of a Day Clinic in Randburg, which became so successful it necessitated the building of a new larger clinic in Johannesburg in 1987. She then joined the X-ray department at the Princess Nursing Home and later became Sister in charge of the Cath. Lab. and taking care of the trauma, ICU and anaesthetised patients in radiology.

In 1988 she joined Medscheme as a Hospital Specialist for hospital accounts and theatre drugs and materials. She assisted the medical advisors Dr Johnathan Gluckman and Dr Shalom Kaye. She was invited to the first Medical Advisors Meeting, and continued to attend meetings and conferences until shortly before her retirement.

She continued to keep abreast of developments specifically in theatre and Cath. Lab. procedures, and attended several committee meetings at RAMS and later BHF, such as the BHF/HASA Meetings, BHF Annual Tariff Negotiation meetings with suppliers for the publication of the BHF Guide to fees and the Technology Review Panel. She also chaired the BHF Panel of Hospital Experts Committee for several years which was responsible for Deliveries and Caesarean Sections being included in the Medical Aid Tariff structure.

She was involved in the BHF’ drafting of the criteria for Hospital and Sub-Acute Facility inspections to obtain their licences, and participated in several Private Hospital inspections countrywide. She participated in the SABTS development of their transport tariff structure as well as the National Renal Care and the National Kidney and Transplant Foundation criteria for renal dialysis and organ transplantation units and their funding. She also worked with the SA Bone Marrow Registry for scheme claims and developing a tariff structure. She collated and maintained the Medscheme Chronic Disease templates and perused new technology applications.

After the Medical Advisory Department was moved to Cape Town she worked on coding for automatic payment through the assessing system, assisting the assessing staff with medical queries, and reformatting a complete set of rules for a Namibian Medical Aid.

On her 73rd birthday she resigned from Medscheme. Pam was married to the late Quentin Otto, who was an Orthopaedic surgeon, and has a son and daughter. Notwithstanding her worldly travels, she fondly remembers holidays to Zanzibar, Mombasa and a whale watching boat trip at Hermanus. She now lives at Sheffield Beach on the Dolphin Coast with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter Cassandra, enjoying watching the everchanging ocean and beautiful whales.

Bentley Phillips - passed away February 2018