Emergency medicine in Botswana

17 May 2016

St Vincent’s Addiction Medicine Specialist, Dr Craig Rodgers, has spent some time sharing his expertise with Emergency Medicine registrars in Gaborone, Botswana.

Having studied medicine and working as interns at St Vincent’s together, the trip was organised by Dr Megan Cox – now Botswana’s only Emergency Specialist and Lecturer at The University of Botswana, which recently established the country’s first medical school.

The new medical school is a vital step in addressing country’s traditionally poor health outcomes, where the average life expectancy is some 30 years lower than ours. Adding to the complexities of the kinds of health issues faced within a developing country, alcohol use is a significant issue and there are emerging issues with other drug use, such as opioids and stimulants. While a smaller number of people drink alcohol in Botswana compared to Australia, they have much larger problems with alcohol-related liver disease and other problems such as road traffic accidents due to alcohol than Australia.

Unfortunately there are currently limited resources and medical staff for the management of these issues - but raising awareness and encouraging discussion of how these conditions are managed globally was one of Craig’s aims of the educational visit.

Recognising the need for specialised medical training in this area, Craig provided education sessions about alcohol related presentations to the Emergency Department as well as longer term complications such as substance withdrawal and neurological damage.

Craig said of the trip, “It was great to be able to support my peer and old colleague, Megan, and to be able to offer some education in an area often neglected, despite it being a serious problem for many people”.