The National, Monday, May 9, 2011
WORKING in medical centres without basic equipment such as a fridge to store vaccines will just be part of the challenge for Te Anau doctor, Liz Scott.
Dr Scott, from the Fiordland Medical Centre, last Friday headed to New Ireland, as a volunteer with Australian Doctors International for the next three-and-a-half-months as part of its new “doctor patrol”, or travelling clinic, to provide health services to people in rural areas of the province.
She said the contrast between the Papua New Guinea health system and New Zealand’s was stark.
She said New Zealanders were more fortunate than they sometimes realised.
“Sometimes we moan about our health system but in comparison, it’s much better,” Scott said.
“Although conditions in some medical centres are good, others, particularly in remote areas, are extremely poor.”
She said rural centres did not even have working refrigerators for vaccine storage and the number and the training levels of staff varied.
The spread of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and, increasingly, HIV/AIDS were of particular concern.
But Scott is looking forward to her trip.
She is no stranger to developing countries, having spent time volunteering in Nepal, Kenya and India.
“It’s nice to be in a situation where you feel like you’re helping, making a bit of a difference,” she said.
The heat will be the tricky part, with temperatures in the low 30s, the polar opposite of the wintry weather she left behind.
“Kenya was hot, but it was dry and hot. I think it’s more the humidity that’s the big problem,” she said. – Scotland Times