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Covid-19 hero honoured with King Charles’ OBE

By Phephile Motau

Andy Kent, who led the 11-men UK Med team to Eswatini to assist during the Covid-19 pandemic has been made an OBE for his services to UK health support overseas and during the pandemic.

According to www.nhshighland.scot.nhs.uk, he is part of those selected for His Majesty King Charles III’s first-ever New Year’s Honours list, appearing alongside stars like Queen guitarist Brian May and captain of the Euro 2022-winning England football team, Leah Williamson.

OBE is the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and is the second highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award. The OBE was endorsed by UK Med and the Royal College Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Kent and his team arrived in Eswatini at the request of the World Health Organisation (WHO) following the devastating second wave of the pandemic, which claimed the lives of many including former Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini and overwhelmed the health system of the country in December 2020.

In a previous interview, Kent said the team of 11 arrived in Eswatini during the last week of January. However, in an unexpected turn, the case numbers had begun to drop, thanks to several contributing factors.

“That was quite a surprise to us,” Andy, as he is popularly known said in an interview with UK Med.

“We were anticipating being in the middle of a huge pandemic, and the number of patients in hospital had dropped off quite significantly. We definitely had to adjust our mindset somewhat when we arrived.”

The team were allocated by the WHO to cover the city of Manzini and its two medical facilities, The Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital and Mavuso Treatment Centre. 

“The strain from the second wave was still showing,” Andy notes. “Staff were obviously really exhausted and dreading the anticipated third wave.”


According to www.nhshighland.scot.nhs.uk, Andy has devoted years of his life to humanitarian healthcare, ensuring patients who are vulnerable and in danger receive the treatment they deserve and providing trauma training to surgeons in low and middle-income countries.

He was commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) while studying at medical school in Edinburgh, serving for 18 years in many different locations as a surgical trainee and consultant in various hostile and austere deployments.

Since retiring from the RAMC in 2002, he has been working in trauma and orthopaedics at Raigmore Hospital. Andy travelled to Ukraine with UK-Med at the height of the Russian invasion last year to help hospital staff prepare for casualties in the war zone, spending 10 weeks in total over two trips.

In the last 3 years, he has been involved in several other missions across the globe with UK-Med in Beirut and Eswatini, the HALO Trust in Afghanistan, the WHO in Somalia and Yemen, and the Primary Trauma Care Foundation in Uganda and India.

He is also vice-chair of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Faculty of Remote, Rural & Humanitarian Healthcare in partnership with UK-Med and others. They aim to provide an academic home for humanitarian healthcare workers from across the spectrum.

In November last year, he was awarded the Global Citizenship Award at the Scottish Health Awards. This year he plans to head back to Ukraine to continue providing humanitarian aid, starting with a trip in January.

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