I've been involved in travel medicine from the start of my studies. I started travelling in my gap year, and continued while I was at university - travelling in Iran, Afghanistan and Nepal as a medic on hand, with nothing more than a medical guide. I studied tropical medicine before specialising in travel, and then I set up my own practice.
What does a typical day involve?
I see a wide variety of people every day, from businessmen, travelling to rough and risky places, to media people, going to war-torn areas like Kosovo or to Turkey after an earthquake.
They are usually going at very short notice, and they need vaccines and medicines to take with them. I may see NATO workers who are going off to Kosovo and need control drugs and morphine in case they step on a mine, but I also see backpackers - often Australians and New Zealanders - who want to ask specific questions about their trip.
What do you like and dislike about your job?
I love having the opportunity to meet people who are undertaking trips that I would love to go on, and I love talking to people who have been to the places that I have been to and who can update me about those places. I don't like not having the freedom to go on the trips myself, and it can be frustrating when I meet people who don't value medical advice and who don't think that it is necessary to pay for consultations.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I have never been to Japan, and I would love to go there. I am fascinated by the Japanese culture. I would also like to go back to parts of Asia, and to travel in China, especially the Yangtse valley, which I'd like to travel more extensively. I would also love to go back to Western Africa and travel around the Niger river and into Mali.
If you weren't working in your present occupation, what would you like to be doing instead?
If I could make a profession out of being a world traveller I would do it. The addiction to travelling took a long time to break and I could quite easily go back to it.
If you could take just one drug or piece of medical equipment with you, what would it be?
Am I allowed two? I would take some insect repellent and some iodine for water purification. They would be the essential pieces of equipment.
Now the party question: you're at a party and someone finds out what you do ... what question do they invariably ask and how do you respond?
They usually ask about a gastro-intestinal disease that they have caught abroad at some time or other. But I do try to avoid talking about bowels, especially if it is at their party and there is food around.
The Fleet Street Travel Clinic is on 0171-353 5678Reuse content