The Drugs Don’t Work

In the past week, I have seen two newborn babies with gonorrhoeal infection in their eyes. Putting this in perspective, I have only seen two cases in 25 years working in general practice and sexual health in England. Most doctors believe that the infection occurs when the baby descends through the birth canal, but there… Continue reading The Drugs Don’t Work

Health and Safety

Health and Safety seems to have a bad reputation in UK. You cannot pick up a copy of the Daily Mail without seeing an article critical of H&S: the firemen who can’t use a step ladder to change a light bulb in the station, or children who have been banned from playing conkers, all in… Continue reading Health and Safety


A “flaneur” or boulevardier, was someone who wandered the streets of Paris, dressed in their most fashionable outfits, taking in the atmosphere of La Belle Epoque and being cool. The tradition lives on in Congo, where typically older men wear sharp suits, shirts and ties, when visiting the bars in the evening. Maybe it is… Continue reading Suits

Christian Science

I could see that there was something wrong with the child’s eye as she peered over her mother’s shoulder. She was wrapped onto her mother’s back with a colourful piece of cloth. The story was pretty typical – hot body, headache, cough, abdominal pain. However, the rapid test for malaria was negative. I asked the… Continue reading Christian Science

“My daughter, she stinks”

Every now and then, I have a perfect consultation. It gives me a warm glow inside. I’m sure that any doctor reading this knows what I am talking about. The diagnosis is spot on, you can fix the problem there and then, patient leaves the room happy and satisfied. These consultations don’t come along very… Continue reading “My daughter, she stinks”

Relax – don’t drink it

Hair relaxer is a mixture of chemicals to take out the kinks in African curly hair, so it can be styled more easily. Some relaxers contain sodium hydroxide, others use ammonium thioglycolate or guanidine hydroxide. All these chemicals burn the skin of the scalp if they are left on the hair for too long. I… Continue reading Relax – don’t drink it

Vaccination Clinic

Nurse/Midwife Regina Banda looked resplendent in her white uniform, starched white cap and a garish yellow apron printed with slogans from Zambia’s eradicate polio programme. “I want to ask you a favour, doctor,” she began. Tuesdays are outreach clinic days, when a nurse travels to a nearby village to vaccinate the children. Nurse/Midwife Grace was… Continue reading Vaccination Clinic