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On Patrol In PNG With Dr Max Osborne

Dr Max Osborne

A New Ireland school headmaster received a potentially life-saving intervention during a routine check-up performed by an ADI patrol doctor recently.

Dr Max Osborne saw the local teacher during a recent visit to an Aid Post. The patient had no significant past medical history, was a non-smoker and took no regular medications. He presented with non-specific symptoms including tiredness and was also overweight.

“On physical examination I discovered that the patient had an extremely high blood pressure reading of 250/150 – well above the normal range of below 130/90,” Max said.

“I immediately recommended a thorough examination to check for organ damage resulting from the hypertension. There was no clinical evidence of heart failure, haemorrhage behind the eye, stroke, kidney failure or any pain indicating heart attack or tearing of the aorta. The patient was, however, at risk of developing one or more of these complications if his blood pressure was not lowered as a matter of urgency, a presentation known as ‘Hypertensive Urgency’.”

Max immediately started the patient on medication and arranged for him to be transported that same day to Kavieng Hospital in the ADI vehicle. A management and investigation plan was instituted in conjunction with the hospital doctors at Kavieng.

The patient’s hypertension was appropriately treated over the next few days and he began the path of risk reduction. He made a commitment to reduce his weight and embark on a gentle exercise program. The patient was discharged from hospital on blood pressure tablets and Max was able to review him at his house whilst on another ADI patrol.

“I was pleased to find that his blood pressure reading was within the normal limits and he was looking forward to resuming his teaching duties. The patient was very grateful for the treatment he had received,” Max said.

“From this point forward, he will be regularly reviewed by his local Aid Post who will keep him supplied with his blood pressure medication.”

“The work of an ADI patrol doctor is varied but also follows a clear routine as patrols must be carefully planned in advance and all logistics taken care of. What we cannot predict in advance, however, is exactly how and when we might make a significant difference to the lives of a patient, their family and their community.”

Although tropical diseases remain prevalent in PNG, the population also suffer from the same pathologies, such as hypertension, that afflict western society. With the support and education that ADI patrol doctors can provide, local PNG medical staff can become better trained to identify these pathologies when they present.

Dr Max Osborne is an Illawarra local, and a friend of Beat Medical.

Originally published on the Australian Doctors International website. ADI is looking for volunteers to live and work in Papua New Guinea.  If you have always wondered what it would be like to work with us, or if you know a colleague or friend who is yearning for a fresh challenge, please get in contact! We are currently recruiting for the following roles:

Medical Officer – Namatanai District Hospital (6 months)
A Medical Officer is needed at Namatanai District Hospital to provide clinical service and mentorship. The ideal candidate will be a doctor capable of working autonomously in a small, rural setting.  The posting will be a combination of clinical service and providing education and training at the hospital and regional health centres.

Health Project Manager (minimum 12 months)
The Health Project Manager is responsible for overseeing the delivery, implementation and management of ADI’s in-country projects.  You will work alongside ADI’s local health partners and have the satisfaction of working closely with the local community.   Your duties will be varied and may include: advising, training and mentoring local health staff, implementing family planning field projects and organising remote integrated health patrols.

Doctors for Integrated Health Patrols – New Ireland Province and Western Province (6 months)
If you’re a doctor who loves extraordinary adventure, tropical medicine and working with local communities, you might be a perfect match for our patrol teams.

For each of the above roles ADI provides a monthly living allowance, food allowance, housing, airfares and other travel expenses. To find out more, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Virpi Tuite, at volunteers@adi.org.au or visit our website.

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