Day Three: Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes.
Day three of Academic gave us a chance to sink our teeth into some substantial issues. First up was Ray Hodgson, who talked about how foreign aid can be counterproductive if not done the right way. And what is this elusive right way? Simply giving non-sustainably is not only an poor way of improving outcomes, but can cause direct harms by propping up destructive regimes and undermining the development of home-grown, sustainable industries and services.
Damien Brown was one of the most hotly anticipated speakers of the conference. A genuinely relatable but clearly exceptional Australian doctor, Damien offered us insight into how foreign work both works and doesn’t work. Amongst a very many lovely take-home messages:
“Learn another language! French, Spanish or Arabic will open up a lot of areas to you.”
Akram Azimi was a pleasure to watch, concisely and clearly explaining how we can tackle big issues like sanitation in developing countries. Akram urged us to consider our privileges and urged us to engage and care:
“Culture isn’t like a glass of water. The more culture you pour into a human being, the bigger the glass gets… you think belonging is us being embedded in the world. But belonging is the world being embedded in us.”
Ben Clark opened History Bites to rapturous applause from his local hand-hygiene disciples. He took us on a brief but fascinating trip through the history of infection, from stegosauruses to vaccination, via Hippocrates, the Black Death, Kanye West and John Snow. “Man is brilliant but also profoundly stupid.” @pasteurfan
“Man is brilliant but also profoundly stupid.”
Empress Stannage whipped through the history of surgery, “a profession defined by its authority to cure by means of bodily invasion”. We heard about the puzzle of worldwide trepanation, the origins of rhinoplasty, Galen and Vesalius, the advent of anaesthesia, antisepsis, and major operative landmarks. We finished with a glimpse at the future of surgery, and access to surgical care around the world.
“a profession defined by its authority to cure by means of bodily invasion”
Rounding up our History Bites adventure was the wonderful Paul McGurgan. During a meander amongst the magical spoons we call forceps, Hutchinson’s Litany, the etymology of obstetrics and the Gartner Hype Cycle, we heard about advances in obstetric care, and the enduring importance of having a good relationship with midwives.
Dan Murphy finished up our programme before lunch. His story of courage and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems was an inspiring and fitting way to end a jam-packed morning.
Following workshops in the afternoon, Lloyd Nash shared his global health journey with us; Lloyd is both modest and dedicated and had some wonderful insights into how to find a path that makes best use of our inclinations and talents. Angus Turner closed our third Academic day with the story of Lions Outback Vision and some remarkable patient education videos. Angus suggested that we “realise that you don’t have to wait until you are a doctor or a specialist to get started on your “unrealistic” dreams.” Seeing Angus interact with several hundred rapt delegates so late on a Friday afternoon is testament to both the quality of his contribution and the calibre of our delegates. His parting words; “The person in front of you is a human being who is connected to their past and their future… if you’re just looking at their eyeballs, you’ll miss the point.”
“realise that you don’t have to wait until you are a doctor or a specialist to get started on your “unrealistic” dreams.”
Thank you one and all for your contributions to our third Academic day. Your engagement and enthusiasm are everything we’d hoped for.