Jungle Medicine: Everything you need to know

19 September 2019

In a diverse environment that has the capacity to be both extremely dangerous and beautiful at once, Jungle Medicine is an interdisciplinary branch of medicine that refers to the practical application of medicine within a jungle environment.

It encompasses a number of sub-specialities such as tropical health, pre-hospital medicine, primary medicine and expedition or wilderness medicine, in combination with the essential non-medical skills required to care for sick or injured people in a jungle environment. As a medic working within a jungle environment, you need to be able to identify that the symptoms presented suggest a tropical disease, and from that evaluation, be able to understand what that means for the person i.e. managing their symptoms or in extreme circumstances CASEVAC (casualty evacuation).

Why is Jungle Medicine needed?
With more people starting to travel, work and explore these distinctive regions across the globe, the need for medics with a unique range of medical and practical skills becomes even more important. As well as being one of the most difficult and extreme terrains in the world, the jungle is also home to a number of dangerous wildlife inhabits, including 17 species of snakes; seven of which can be deadly, plus scorpions, spiders, and other diverse wildlife.

It’s also important to note that population surges, as well as other inter-related factors such as globalisation, climate change and urbanisation, are challenges we need to consider when thinking about and entering a remote and tropical environment. Isolated and exotic locations are often lacking public health infrastructure, which means basic healthcare such as having safe water and adequate sanitation are real risks to the traveller and potentially could contribute to the spread of dangerous infectious diseases upon their return.

What skills do you need to practice Jungle Medicine?
Due to its diverse and challenging location, the practice of medicine within a jungle environment requires a unique set of skills to be able to:

  • Navigate
  • Create fire and cook
  • Build adequate shelter
  • Survive and thrive in such an extreme environment
  • Provide medical care
  • Understand endemic diseases

Who practices Jungle Medicine?
With many tropical and jungle research expeditions and projects taking place in developing countries, where medical facilities are either non-existent or poor, it is vital that there are medical professionals on the ground with the practical skills, knowledge and understanding needed to perform in highly complex and demanding situations.

Alongside the skills already gained from such fields as pre-hospital medicine and primary healthcare, medics will also need to know how to manage envenomation (exposure to a poison or toxin from a bite or sting), have practical survival skills to support both themselves and their party, logistical knowledge and be able to identify and manage symptoms of tropical disease relevant to their environment.

The future of Jungle Medicine
As the environment becomes incrementally more extreme, more accessible to the wider population for exploration, and open to inter-related challenges such as climate change and globalisation, demand is now dictating the need to take a holistic and interdisciplinary approach when thinking about practising medicine in these new and unfamiliar terrains.

The planning and execution of self-care and the care for others are vital lessons to be learnt in this environment – attention to detail is key!

Introducing the World Extreme Medicine Jungle Medicine Course
Due to the importance of this subject and with such growing demand for medical skills in this field, as remote locations are more accessible, we have developed an exciting and comprehensive Jungle Medicine course for all those medical professionals responsible for clients, patients or team members in a sub-tropical or jungle environment.

This course is open and ideal for all Medical and Allied Health Professionals as well as medical students in their final year of study. This interesting subject is explored in great depth by an expert faculty and will provide practical survival skills, an overview of tropical medicine, logistical knowledge and pre-hospital skills required on a jungle expedition that can then be utilised in real-life situations.

The course enables attendees to:

  • Increase their knowledge about Jungle Medicine and equip medics with practical survival skills, an overview of tropical medicine, logistical knowledge and pre-hospital skills required on a jungle expedition all while immersed in the environment.
  • Acquire and develop specific survival skills for Jungle Medicine and standard operating procedures applicable to a jungle environment
  • Develop leadership and decision making skills required when working in resource-limited environments
  • Enhance knowledge and skills relating to understanding, diagnosing and treating heat-related illness and hydration
  • Improve environmental awareness enabling a greater ability to plan, risk assess and set yourself up for successful expeditions in one of the world’s most challenging climates

Through fully immersive learning, deep in the stunning tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, this action-packed course provides both hands-on practical and theory-based elements and will give you an appreciation of how triple canopy can affect casevac, navigation, planning & execution of care. You’ll learn a range of survival and camp skills that are vitally important, including water treatment and methods of making water potable, minor & major wound care, hydration and how to avoid dehydration. We also teach fundamental skills of how to treat snake bites and other wildlife injuries, plus public health and self-care principles that are crucial in this environment where small blisters or sores can end your travels early if not dealt with properly.

Find out more about our Jungle Medicine course here.

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