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Mark Owen-Cooper

Mobile Surgical Services

Enjoying a sunny day with the Surgical Bus in Snells Beach

Mobile Surgical services, what a whirlwind way to tour New Zealand and get to assist in improving rural health care throughout rural NZ. This was the way I spent the first month of my elective. After a minor hitch with booking my time on the surgical bus everything was sorted for me to meet up with the mobile surgical bus in Queenstown on the 20th of November 2017, 2 weeks after sitting my final 5th-year exams, and 1 week after finding out I actually passed them. (WoooHooo!!!) I managed to get this amazing elective set up thorough MSS’s General Manager Mark Eager and their mastermind and Clinical Director Dr. Stu Gowland. › Continue reading…


Life, Hope and the Buddha’s Tooth

Management of cases in a Paediatric ICU is an area I have not had a lot of experience in during my clinical training so this week I chose to spend my time on this ward to further my knowledge of this specialty. It was explained to me by the consultant early on in the first ward round that the most challenging aspect of managing children on the ward is discussing end of life care due to the Sri Lankan emphasis upon the sanctity of life. › Continue reading…


At Capacity and Infections

The idea of a hospital being ‘at capacity’ has gained a new meaning for me since my attachment started on the Paediatrics ward at Karapitiya. This year has been particularly bad for dengue in Sri Lanka with an estimated 81, 000 dengue patients nationwide and around 250 deaths from this mosquito-borne virus.

Paediatric ward at Karapitiya

› Continue reading…


Labour Room and the Law

This morning was busy in the labour room with five babies being born before midday. The layout of this area is strikingly different from the standard maternity suite in a New Zealand hospital. The room is one open space with eight curtained beds housed in two bays. Perhaps most surprising to me was that it is normal and expected that women birth alone here without any family or partner support. This included women coping with the delivery of babies with very poor, terminal prognoses such as one woman with an anencephalic foetus who was being induced at 41 weeks. › Continue reading…


First Impressions

Things have changed since my partner Steve and I were last in Sri Lanka. We travelled here for a month in 1999 during a brief ceasefire during the Tamil Tiger years. I’ve always had a fascination with islands and Sri Lanka didn’t disappoint despite our travel being restricted to avoiding the then more dangerous north of the island. › Continue reading…


The End of Tanzania

For the second half of my time in Tanzania, I worked in the NICU and maternity ward. Nothing could have prepared me for this. 

I began in the NICU, a very full department where one doctor and one nurse manage some 70-100 infants. Here, children are admitted if they are of low birth weight/believed to be premature. I say believed, because very few people use antenatal care in Zanzibar, so many woman do not know how far along they are. › Continue reading…

Touchdown in Tanzania

After LIME, I caught many planes to finally make it to Zanzibar in Tanzania. Zanzibar is a coastal island part of Tanzania that has a fascinating history. It’s known for two big things: for being the home of spice and for being the eastern hub of human slave trading in Africa.

Zanzibar is a predominantly Muslim region which largely reflects its slavery history. Made of a couple of islands, it has a tropical feel with a mix of traditional Africa and the Middle East – an interesting combination. › Continue reading…

The LIME Connection

Next on the agenda for the elective was a quick stop off to Melbourne for a conference called the LIME connection.  This conference brought together indigenous people from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Hawaii for a week of discussions about what was being done to improve indigenous education in medical curriculum. › Continue reading…


What’s your Emergency?

After finishing up in Paediatrics, I moved to emergency care for two weeks. The emergency room was staffed by one doctor and a couple of nurses, one of which was also the ambulance medic if anyone had a call out. This was where I spent a lot of time as a first responder.  Often there is not enough staff to send a doctor in the ambulance. › Continue reading…


Play it by Ear

Another week done here in Tonga. This past week I’ve continued in paediatrics, which continues to be an experience in itself. Among things I managed to attend, were clinics dedicated to heart diseases specifically rheumatic heart disease.

One thing I have quickly come to realise is due to the lack of resources, managing paediatric heart conditions in Tonga is challenging. There is no access to echo – diagnosis and management is purely clinical with an ECG. You have to look for signs of disease. You have to listen and quite literally use the murmurs to play it by ear. › Continue reading…

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