Jungle medicine is an eye-opener

MAKESHIFT THEATRE: Dr Nadim Cody treats a man whose arm was badly wounded by a chainsaw.
MAKESHIFT THEATRE: Dr Nadim Cody treats a man whose arm was badly wounded by a chainsaw. Contributed

AN IPSWICH doctor had a steep learning curve after working for an international medical team in the war-torn PNG province of Bougainville.

Former Ipswich Hospital doctor Nadim Cody took up the post with the Médecins Sans Frontières four years after graduating.

The rural nature of the post gave the 28-year-old from Eastern Heights many challenges, from the language barrier with the patients to the diseases he treated them for.

The island is largely covered in jungle and battling a poor electricity supply threw an additional challenge into the mix.

During his first three months the Buin Health Centre only received power for a few hours every fortnight.

Any treatment Dr Cody gave after dark was done by torch light.

Dr Cody managed inpatient and outpatient referrals, emergency admissions, helped with complicated births, developed and supported the tuberculosis program, and educated staff.

Tuberculosis is prevalent in the Bougainville community, and Dr Cody enjoyed treating his patients on a regular basis.

The patients came for a check-up each month and to get more medications, so Dr Cody could track their progress.

"It was good because I could follow patients for the whole six months I was there," he said.

"One patient was a cute little boy of five months, called Cedric. He had enormous cheeks and a happy nature.

"His mother had brought him to the clinic because he had a recurrent cough, runny nose, diarrhoea and little weight gain. I diagnosed him with TB and we started him on treatment.

"His father was a known TB patient who had let his treatment lapse. After I had a long talk with Cedric's mother, she persuaded her husband to restart treatment.

"It was also good to see Cedric putting on good weight, grow and start to walk."

For more information about Médecins Sans Frontières, phone 1300 13 60 61 or visit the website, msf.org.au.

Topics:  ipswich hospital, médecins sans frontières, nadim cody, papua new guinea, png



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