Off the beaten track in Papua New Guinea


Online via immersive digital platform | Watch Live or On-demand
Wednesday 5th October 19:00 (BST)

Beth Lewis is an “F13” doctor who has spent seven of her post-graduation years working in some of the most remote jungle and swamp communities in Papua New Guinea.

While usually working as the only doctor for a population of 50,000+, she is a generalist dealing with all specialities from obstetrics to trauma and surgery to infectious disease. Jokingly known amongst colleagues as a “consultant in WTF medicine” due to the diversity of medical presentations she deals with on a regular basis.

Beth has the East Africa Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, studied in Tanzania and Uganda, and has studied Emergency Medicine in the Tropics in Rwanda. She has additional experience of remote medicine working on a medical ship in the Peruvian Amazon, running a paediatric ward in Sierra Leone and working with a community paediatrics project for children with disabilities in India.

These days her time and focus is mainly taken up with her two year old daughter Ruthie who she adopted last year in Papua New Guinea; and advocating for children like her in a society and environment which is unfavourable for those with disabilities.

Session Overview

As the world becomes more connected and easier to access, there still remains many places “off the beaten track”.

Where communities have remained unchanged for generations and where access to healthcare is virtually non-existent. Beth works in one such place in the Sepik swamp in Papua New Guinea.

In this webinar she will give a snapshot of what it is like to practice medicine in a place where patients travel up to two weeks by foot and canoe to attend the clinic, where disease is believed to be caused by sorcery, where tribal violence is a daily occurrence, and where 1 in 15 women will die from pregnancy-related causes.

Sharing stories of the challenges faced working where there is no access to diagnostics or referral, and why her focus remains on basic care rather than specialist services.

Our webinars give you the opportunity to watch live or on-demand, and take your e-learning to a whole new level. With live Q&A and networking with fellow attendees, this is a great way for you to hear from some of the world’s leading Extreme Medicine experts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Be exposed to an example of humanitarian healthcare outside of acute disaster, emergency relief and conflict zones, and gain an appreciation of the major differences.
  2. Increase awareness, context and understanding of baseline healthcare and day-to-day life in a ‘lower economically developed’ country, in this case PNG.
  3. Begin to understand that you have to understand a place’s people before you can effectively practice medicine in that place. And that this takes years, if not a lifetime.
  4. Gain insight into the plethora of conditions and therefore skills, knowledge and resilience one must develop to work in such a remote, poorly-resourced and culturally-different place.
  5. Understand that being a healthcare professional and the value you add does not always mean we have to ‘do’, that is, prescribe, plaster, operate. It may mean listening, showing someone respect and care, or explaining and offering an answer. It may mean thinking laterally in terms of what could change someone’s situation. Understand that debunking a sourcery rumour may help someone more than a pill.
  6. Invoke self-reflection and consideration of what drives you as an individual, where your boundaries may lie in terms of comfort in living, in medicine and whether there are ways in which you can directly or indirectly assist nations less fortunate, to improve healthcare sustainably.

Further Courses

Humanitarian Medicine Course
Caselton, UK
January 2023

Develop a new skill set which has the power to make a difference across the world. Humanitarian Medicine allows you to learn the theory, essential skills and key medical aspects of humanitarian intervention.

Whether you’re looking to travel and support aid projects, or simply incorporate these universal principles of care into more domestic situations.

Join us and equip yourself with the skills required to make a real impact on human welfare – locally or globally.

View Humanitarian Medicine Course >

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