India-born doctor and former Australian Medical Association (AMA) head Mukesh Haikerwal is recovering in hospital after being brutally assaulted and mugged in Melbourne, an attack that has shocked the country's medical authorities.
Haikerwal sustained serious head injury when he was assaulted at around 11 pm in Williamstown suburb of Melbourne on Saturday night.
He is recovering at the Western Hospital after undergoing an emergency surgery to remove blood clotting in his brain. The police are investigating the incident.
A champion of public health, the 47-year-old doctor is a member of the Australian government's National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission and chair of the World Medical Association Finance and Planning Committee.
"Mukesh is a very generous person and has readily given so much of his time, passion and commitment to improving patient care in Australia. He is admired by patients, colleagues, and policymakers alike," a shocked AMA president Rosanna Capolingua said.
"That a defenceless man going for a walk can be set upon so violently by other humans is shocking. He is in our hearts and prayers today and in the days ahead. We hope his recovery is swift and complete," Capolingua added.
Haikerwal was president of the AMA from 2005 to 2007. At Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's 2020 summit in Canberra recently, he lobbied for integration of information technology in healthcare.
Wishing Haikerwal a speedy recovery, Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said: "Mukesh is an extremely gentle and kind individual - it is difficult to imagine anyone less deserving of such a vicious attack. Our thoughts are with Mukesh's wife Karyn and their three sons, Suresh, Ajaya and Jeevan, at this extremely difficult time."
Haikerwal was born in Lucknow, but grew up in England. In 1990, he moved to Australia and set up a medical general practice in Melbourne's western suburbs, where he still works.