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Zafar Zaidi qualified from Lucknow in 1955. After a year's house posts he undertook his specialist paediatric training in Ottawa General Hospital, the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Ottawa, and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada, becoming chief resident. He undertook postgraduate studies in London for the diploma in child health and in Edinburgh for the Royal College of Physicians. In London he trained at Great Ormond Street and the North Middlesex Hospitals as a senior house officer and as paediatric registrar. He began clinical studies of antibiotics in childhood illnesses during this period. After brief consultancies in the north, Bedford, Hertfordshire, and Essex, he was appointed in 1967 to found the department of paediatrics, Aligarh Muslim University, India, becoming head of department and professor of paediatrics. He conducted major trials on the treatment of tropical childhood infections.
In 1972 he was appointed in London as consultant paediatrician to King George, Oldchurch, and Barking Hospitals, also working at Ilford Maternity, Rush Green, and later Harold Wood Hospitals; Zafar retired in 2003 after over 30 years' sterling service. He was a respected clinician and popular colleague, who was secretary of and later president of the Ilford Medical Society. An enthusiastic teacher and trainer, with his experience in developing new children's units he founded the paediatric department of Al Ain University (United Arab Emirates) during a year's sabbatical, later briefly working also in Sharjah, Jeddah, and Jubail. He contributed to the academic development of innumerable trainees in the United Kingdom and abroad, published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, and was an active contributor to the Indian Medical Association (UK). He leaves a wife; a son (a surgical registrar in ophthalmology); two daughters; and a granddaughter.