Intended for healthcare professionals


None so naive as the well meaning

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:263
  1. Penelope Bryant (, research fellow
  1. University of Melbourne department of paediatrics and Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Australia

It was a moment of blinding clarity. In the wake of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami I heard on the news that the Sri Lankan government was appealing for paediatricians. It suddenly occurred to me that I might be in an ideal position to go and do something to help, rather than my usual wringing of hands or donating the equivalent of a fraction of a clean water pump. I'm a fellow in paediatric infectious diseases currently doing research, so there would be no patients to miss me, and my colleagues wouldn't be burdened by rota changes. Also, I am financially supported so would not need to be paid, I have previously worked in a refugee situation, and I even already had a ticket for a flight to Malaysia. In my naivety I assumed that charities would be clamouring for my services, so I went to the internet.

Most of the websites had details on how to donate money but nothing about how I personally might be of assistance. I was encouraged, however, by the Red Cross website, which …

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