Passing of activist Prof Neil White

15 November 2004

Professor Neil White, head of the occupational health unit, passed away peacefully and with great dignity on Saturday, November 6. White was an individual with enormous courage, consistency, compassion and dignity. He maintained these attributes throughout his illness, and encouraged the steady stream of visitors to continue visiting.

His friends, colleagues, patients and family remember White's days as a fearless activist campaigning to improve the human rights of workers and communities. He used his skills as a scientist to both expose the occupational diseases caused by South African industry and to change compensation practice and laws, at the same time becoming deeply involved in individual workers' struggles for fair compensation.

Through his work with the National Medical and Dental Association (Namda) and the ANC Health Desk, he contributed to progressive health policy in South Africa as well as providing voluntary practical medical support to anti-apartheid campaigns and campaigners. He made a formidable intellectual contribution to the local and international field of occupational health.

White made a major contribution to teaching in occupational health in southern Africa, including postgraduate teaching using web-based technology. He also assisted miners with occupational lung disease, part of his contributions to a better South Africa.

Most importantly he was a good friend, loving husband and very special father. Condolences go to his wife, Justine, and sons Kim and Joseph, as well as to his family and friends.

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