Archive for the ‘Wembley’ Category

Staying safe during an Ebola mission

Dr Saschveen Singh, Capstone Health, Wembley

Ebola Staff health: not your average travel medicine story.

Since the West African outbreak made international headlines in 2015-2017, Ebola has been shrouded in myth. Many had forgotten its existence.

But the recent major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has put the disease centre-stage again.

When I was placed at an Ebola treatment centre with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) my friends and family first asked me why on earth I wanted to go there; and, second, what I would do to stay safe.

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Marshall Islands


In December 2013, 19 Doctors attended the inaugural Pacific Critical Care Conference in the Marshall Islands. Director of Capstone Health Dr Matthew Atkins and employee Dr Stephen Massey from were fortunate enough to be among the participants.

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Racing To Paradise – Fremantle to Bali

… Prepared by  TMA Member Wembley, WA: Dr Shane Leavy

The Fremantle to Bali Yacht Race was held for the first time this year after a 14-year hiatus. Having sailed as a kid and more recently raced across the Atlantic I was more than keen to be a part of this adventure.I recently joined the team at Capstone Health with Matt Atkins and Dave Rowse and as such I was keen to put into practice my burgeoning travel medicine skills to go with those I’ve gained from my time in Emergency Medicine. All in all I couldn’t think of a better way to practice what you teach!

As owner and skipper of “Farr Lap of Sydney”, I persuaded my land lubber father, Dr Richard Leavy and friend, fellow emergency doctor and sailor, Dr Stephen Grainger to join the crew.

Farr Lap was one of 22 yachts that competed in the 1400 NM (3000 Km) race to Bali. It was the adventure of a lifetime, getting the crew organised and the yacht ship shape and ready for such a journey was an adventure in itself. Fremantle to Bali is 3 times the distance of the Sydney to Hobart with nowhere to seek safe haven once the WA coast is departed off the Exmouth Peninsula.

Adding to the adventure, whilst sailing at the top end of the fleet, Farr Lap began to take on water, more water than had come through the hatches during the first few days of unseasonal norwesters. A decision was made to stop in Exmouth to repair a small crack, which was found to be the cause of their problems.

Reaching Bali in 11 days and a respectable mid fleet position, we spent a restful week in hotel luxury sharing salty sea tales with the rest of the fleet. We then departed for a month of cruising the exotic Indonesian Archipelago, which included Lombok, the Gili Islands and Sumbawa. Waking in hammocks swinging on the yachts’ deck amongst the local fishing boats and seeing the sun rise over Volcano Rinjani was truly an unforgettable experience.Thankfully all the advice and preparation we put in, not only for our boat but also for the rest of the fleet paid off as we managed to avoid any major medical catastrophes and with a little bit of luck we also avoided any minor medical inconveniences along the way simvastatin dosage. (The odd episode of seasickness excluded of course).

The challenges involved in not only the effort of completing the race successfully, but the organizational tasks of preparing our crew and those of the fleet for potential traumatic medical emergencies and also for any travel related problems for the time around the Indonesian islands for many of the boats, were bigger than I had originally planned for, but also incredibly satisfying once it all came together without incident.

Asked if we would do it again for the next race in two years time? All our hands are raised!

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Trekking Ethics

Prepared by  TMA member Wembley, WA:  Dr David Rowse

It’s that time of year when we get more trekkers through the travel clinic in search of advice about safety in the mountains for their coming adventure. These intrepid travellers will be either trekking by themselves or in groups and most will be seeking the assistance to help get them up and down the mountain safely. As a result in these mountain regions all over the world, thousands of locals work as trekking and climbing porters carrying extraordinary loads up and down trails.

However these porters are often considered among the lowest social positions within the community and too frequently are exploited by their employers who pay poor wages, do nothing to improve the working conditions and this results in very ill equipped with insufficient clothing or footwear

In 1997 there was a tragedy in which a young Nepali porter employed by a trekking company became severely ill with altitude illness. He was paid off and sent down alone. It took just another 30 hours for him to die. He was 20 years old and left behind a wife and 2 small children. The International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) was formed to prevent such tragedies.

It is a fact that more porters suffer from accidents and altitude sickness than western trekkers and that every year porters die unnecessarily on the job. Many are affected so badly by frost bite or snow blindness that they are unable to work again and unable to support their families.

Whether its Nepal, Pakistan, Tanzania, Peru or any other trekking destination, the problems faced by trekking porters share are the same, whether they be inadequate wages, a lack of appropriate clothing, footwear or safety equipment or a lack of medical care should they fall ill or become injured.

Choosing a Trekking Company

Before you book your trek ask the travel company what their porter policy is (see below for questions to ask). Contact organisations which offer ethical trekking agreements to which trekking companies can sign up. Finally, if you see porter mistreatment then complain loud and long on the spot and once home complain to your travel company. Send a report of the incident to IPPG with as much detail as possible.

Questions to ask trekking companies:

1. Does the company follow IPPG’s five guidelines on porter safety (detailed on their website)?
2. What is their policy on equipment and health care for porters?
3. What do they do to ensure the trekking staff is properly trained to look after porters’ welfare?
4. What is their policy on training and monitoring porter care in the country you intend to visit?
5. Do they ask about treatment of porters in their post trek feedback questionnaire to clients?

So is the answer to avoid using porters on your trek? Of course not discover here. If you act responsibly and choose an ethical company, employing porters is a very good way to assist some of the world’s poorest communities and create jobs for meagre subsistence farmers to supplement their income so the more porters you can employ the better!

Despite their hard graft, you’ll discover that the grace and enthusiasm of your porters will add a wonderful dimension to your trek.

More Information
International Porter Protection Group:
Australian Himalayan Foundation:
Porters’ Progress UK:


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