In the 1960s to 1980s, a heated controversy arose as to how best medical care could be delivered to individuals living in rural ‘third-world’ communities. This became polarised: should the national health budget be directed to primary health-care with the exclusion of tertiary care (including hospitals)? This became confused with the training of medical personnel, including doctors. Of course, a balanced approach is what is required.
Now that the NHS under the present government is rapidly becoming oriented towards primary health care, this third-world controversy of nearly half a century ago might well be worthy of consideration. After a decade, and more, working in Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Saudi Arabia, as well as in Papua New Guinea, the author became increasingly convinced that a balanced viewpoint, i.e. between curative and preventive medicine was both essential and the only way forward in both developing and developed countries. That is a simple ‘message’ and the underlying theme in this book.
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This very readable and well-illustrated book outlines the medical career of a physician who undertook a series of assignments in tropical countries between 1960 and 1990: Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea. Having thus obtained considerable experience of, and made significant contributions to, ‘medicine in the tropics’, he was later appointed to London’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases, and there saw and contributed to, the formal discipline of tropical medicine (which originated in the late nineteenth century) in the latter years of the twentieth century.
This unique account, outlined in this fascinating narrative, covers more than seven decades, four of which were devoted to tropical diseases, seen in warm climates and also Britain.
Now that the majority of developing countries possess their own medical school and graduates, it is most unlikely that this kind of itinerant and exciting career will be repeated.