Time for a change

Early next month, I start work with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in Jahangir Puri, a slum area in North Delhi, at their new sexual and gender based violence clinic, Umeed Ki Kiran. The contract is for a minimum of 12 months.

From the clean air and pleasant climate of South Luangwa in July, I will be moving to a city with appalling air pollution in the middle of the humid rainy season in August. There are more people crammed into the Indian capital than there are in the whole of Zambia. I remember returning to London following my first visit to India in 1978. It was just before Christmas and the shoppers were out in force. But after struggling with the masses of humanity at Connaught Circus in Delhi, London seemed bizarrely  empty, even  with the crowds in Oxford Street.


Instead of seeing leopards and lions in their natural habitat, the animals I am most likely to come across are rats and other vermin infesting the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Asia, which is close to the clinic. I admit that I would quite like to see some tigers, however.

So why am I doing it? This is a natural extension of my work in MSF Matsapha at the SGBV clinic but in a totally different context. Although I have all the clinical skills required, the new job will be mainly supporting, advising, training, teaching and coaching local health workers. MSF wants to demonstrate how to provide a world class service for survivors of sexual violence, raising awareness and acting as a catalyst for change. And I relish a challenge.

This is NOT where I will be working in Delhi. “Consult for early discharge” sounds intriguing

I will miss the direct clinical interaction with patients (though I intend to apply for a medical licence in India). I could have volunteered to work as a doctor in Northern Myanmar with MSF, but at this time in my career, I feel  I need to pursue a slightly different path.

Because of the highly sensitive nature of the project, I do not intend to continue writing a blog about my work. But I may be tempted to write about everyday life in Delhi, with a few photographic illustrations. Watch this space.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my loyal readers. I think it is life affirming to write about the humour  which I see in my everyday experiences, regardless of the endless frustrations and inevitable cock ups of working in developing nations. I hope I have entertained you with my quirky view of life working as a doctor overseas.


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.


  1. Really going to miss your inspiring words and beautiful pictures but look forward to hearing and seeing the next chapter, the Delhi years. Mat

  2. Entertained, educated, grounded, inspired and many other things. I hope you all the support for your emotional resilience on this one. It’ll be a biggie, but we know you are the man for the job. Be safe xx

  3. I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures Ian. OK some of the medical stuff is way over my head but some great stories. Your photos have been amazing. I for one hope you take to blogging from India on everyday life there, will be a great insight I’m sure. I wish you well in your new post. Enjoy your break x x

  4. Ian, you will certainly be paying it forward on this assignment. I think your blogging in generic generalities may help dealing with the impact of the tragedies or absurdities. Here’s hoping for future blogs on India in general.

  5. Thank you Ian for your inspiring blogs. We have thoroughly enjoyed your meanderings, quirky opinions and captivated by the beautiful photographs.
    We hope you relish the change of country, culture and diet whilst rising to this new challenge.
    Please keep the blogs going if you can especially if it helps to balance any new stresses. Good tiger spotting in Tadoba, by the way. Joan and Peter Davies

  6. Thank very much. I enjoyed learning about my own country through your eyes. I have no doubt you did terrific work for my dear mother Zambia. Best wishes for you as you go to India.

  7. Thank you Namfukwe. The opinions I expressed are my own. I hope I didn’t offend you with my descriptions – it is just how I saw it. I did my best to help.

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