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Student Life

Papua New Guinea: the good, the bad, and the ugly

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 01 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:0109338
  1. Stephen Ford, fourth year medical student1
  1. 1University of Liverpool

Stephen Ford shares his experiences

I had the privilege of staying in the village of Dogura, Milne Bay Province, for six weeks, working in a primary health care centre run by the Anglican Health Service. My work consisted mainly of shadowing the two GPs there, both on the wards and on patrol in villages in the surrounding area. These patrols were the highlight of my elective as I was given the opportunity to experience something of the everyday life of the villages. After trekking for several hours through jungle and scrub, we would arrive at a village, meet the aid post orderly, and set up a clinic. Children would leave their school for the day, just to watch the consultations (there's no concept of privacy in Papua New Guinea.

Clinics could last for a couple of days as word would spread through the surrounding countryside. Men would be seen first, then children, and finally women, as fitting with cultural expectations. …

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