These children don't have mumps. They are just posing for the camera
These children don’t have mumps. They are just posing for the camera

One evening, over dinner, a Zambian guide at the lodge was talking about traditional treatments for illnesses. This was fascinating for me, and I filed away lots of interesting therapeutic techniques for future use.

When a patient with mumps came to the clinic last week, I examined the patient to confirm the diagnosis and said:

“You must find a small bundle of twigs, tie them with sisal and place them on your head. Walk to a pathway which forks into two and at the junction, you must dance until the twigs fall from your head. Then immediately walk home, without looking backwards. And in a few days you will be cured.”


My interpreter looked at me in amazement. “How did you know this, doctor? Is this how you treat mumps in your country, too?”

To my shame, I couldn’t resist saying, “Yes.”

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.


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