Picture of HIV Virus Day Four: HIV/AIDS

Gisela Schneider opened the day on HIV. She told us two stories, one of a bishop at a national conference, washing the feet of those with HIV, and another, of a pastor apologising, in tears, to a woman who said how she has been unable to speak publically about her HIV status. The pastor apologised, because Christians too easily judge it as a moral problem, and forget that there are people in the midst of it who simply need the love of Christ.

When she first worked in Gambia in the 80s, HIV arrived, but it was simply referred to as “the disease”. No-one would talk about it, no one would accept it, and it was simply hoped that the patients would die and take away the shame from the family. The Lancet article in 1985 was the first to describe a hetrosexual disease spread by sexual contact. At that time, patients simply died.

TB Xray - notice the cavitation on L lung. Day Three: Tropical Medicine

Almost late today, which meant we failed to do the proper British thing of sitting in the same place every day. The front row seems like a scary place, and I’m further from the toilet too. Not much I can do about that, so it’s time to pay attention. Today started with Vicky Lavy discussing how the course is acredited, and all the tiresome exciting repercussions of the new UK revalidation process. Then we moved onto TB…

Fuelled by the HIV epidemic, disproportionately affecting the poor, disenfranchised, and hard-to-reach group, and steadily become resistant to many ABx, TB is a unique problem. Taking 6 months of a combination antibiotic is an enormous challenge – I can appreciate this, since I have never successfully completed a 7 day course myself, generally missing out between 1 and 6 days worth.

African Man Drinking Maize Beer Day Two: Medicine

I left a little earlier today so that I could skip the traffic. This was successful to some extent, saving me about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, failing to get a swipecard yesterday meant I spent around 15 minutes waiting outside until someone let me in. Eventually though, I managed to get a cup of coffee before the first session began… Maureen Wilkinson (who spoke yesterday) started us with another picture: “I’d like you to come with me to the edge of the Sahara. You are visiting an old lady, in a cut, nearing the point of death. On the vast horizon, a dust cloud appears, and it become clear that its a group of Arabs on horses. The riders are wearing bright blue robes. The constrast in vitality between their life and the dying lady is vast. Africa is a land of many contrasts. 

Day One: Community Health

Arriving at the beautiful Oak Hill College for the first day of this course, I was taken aback by the peaceful grounds. 5 miles inside the M25, it was a rather a surprise to drive into a green, leafy park, with a large period building with a refreshingly cool, modern interior. Seriously, I think I want to live here.

After a vital cup of tea, we kicked off with the first talk, from Ted Lankester. He is an engaging, amusing speaker, with an obvious passion for helping those in the world who don’t have access to adequate healthcare. He runs InterHealth, which heads up the Community Health Global Networks.