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A doctor without borders across Africa: Lindsay Demes

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On routine days, Lindsay would review the most critically ill patients with the medical staff, discuss optimisation of prescriptions and engage in bedside teaching related to patients' conditions. Most afternoons were filled up with further staff training.

He faced more daunting challenges on not-so-ordinary days, like a sudden measles outbreak. "On one Friday evening, we received three patients presenting with measles," Lindsay explains. "Within 30 minutes of the patients arriving, about 12 colleagues arrived from the compound and worked late into the night to set up an isolation ward with a 30-bed capacity. It really shows the amazing teamwork we have at MSF."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9AbtX1sJ6k

Another highlight was running a crucial measles vaccination campaign to reach 7,000 children between six months and 15 years old. "In some places, the villages were only accessible using quad bikes, which meant that we had to pack the bikes with the day's supplies and set out early in the morning and start vaccinating, often under a tree."

At the start of this 2020, Lindsay was set to head off to his next assignment – a plan quickly derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With international borders closed, many South African MSF staff who typically work internationally were reassigned to projects within South Africa as part of the national response to the pandemic. In April, Lindsay joined our teams in Johannesburg, where they were providing primary healthcare at shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

"I appreciated the work in the shelters because it helped me to build a relationship with people that you usually only meet on a transient basis and you don't usually take the time to get to know," he says. "Hearing about life from a different perspective was very interesting and humbling."

In July, he travelled to Kenema in the eastern region of Sierra Leone, where he is working in an MSF-built hospital focused on reducing the mortality of children under five years old and offering quality healthcare to pregnant and lactating women.

Sierra Leone's two health indicators are among the worst in the world, and there is not enough medical staff to meet demands, partly due to the untimely deaths of 7% of the country's healthcare workers during the Ebola outbreak from 2014 to 2016.

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