Dr Harish Rajpal – a Kiwi-Indian doctor who has dedicated four decades of his life for voluntary service, and considered as a leading visionary in healthcare in New Zealand, was honoured this week when a scholarship fund was launched in an event in Upper Hut.

The ‘Harish Rajpal MedicAlert Scholarship’ has been conceived by the MedicAlert Foundation - a registered non-profit charity that saves lives by providing medical information in emergency situations in partnership with the family of Dr Harish Rajpal - as a living tribute to the memory of Dr Rajpal.

The Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy on Wednesday, August 21 officially launched the scholarship fund that will provide financial support to those working on harm prevention initiatives.

About seventy people attended the launch of the Scholarship Fund at Expressions Whirinaki in Upper Hutt, where guests included members of Rajpal family, representatives of the health community in Wellington, the Indian High Commission, local dignitaries, and MedicAlert members, staff and board members.

Dr Harish Rajpal, who died earlier this year is deeply revered in the Wellingtonian health community for his unwavering commitment and contribution towards medical service.

Dr Rajpal was born in India, where he was trained as a medical doctor, had arrived in New Zealand in 1966 along with his wife Darshee, embarking upon a journey of more than 45 years to serve different communities.

He was involved in the establishment of the first Medical Centre in New Zealand, in Upper Hutt, and was instrumental in establishing MedicAlert Foundation as it is known today in New Zealand from 1970. 

MedicAlert Foundation was established for those individuals that found themselves in danger when it comes to their unique health needs, basically assisting first responders and clinicians during emergency situations by providing vital clinically verified medical information about those being served.

The Foundation had made sweeping progress in the last four decades by evolving from very humble beginnings to having fully computerised offices with more than 150,000 members in New Zealand.

Dr Rajpal was the first medical Doctor to provide services to the organisation in New Zealand and has worked with the Membership organisation in a voluntary capacity since 1970.

MedicAlert Foundation chief executive Murray Lord said, “Harish made a lifetime commitment to the Foundation to protect and save lives. It is in this spirit that the Harish Rajpal MedicAlert Scholarship has been established and will come to life.”

Earlier in 2013, Dr Rajpal was honoured with the prestigious MedicAlert International Marion Collins Award.

Meanwhile, the scholarship is intended to be awarded to outstanding candidates undertaking projects that make a tangible contribution to preventing avoidable harm. Avoidable harm is estimated to cost more than $700 million in New Zealand each year.

Preventing avoidable harm not only saves money but also prevents people from becoming dependent and enables limited resources in the health sector to be deployed more productively. More importantly, it prevents unnecessary suffering and saves lives.

An Inaugural National Fundraiser has been set up with a GiveaLittle page (https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/scholarship-fund) and members of the community encouraged contributing generously.