It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour – Life and Death Decisions: Fighting to save lives from disaster, disease and destruction by Dr Lachlan McIver. ‘An action-packed tale of medicine in the most remote, poverty-torn areas of the globe from a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor.’
About the Author
Dr Lachlan McIver is a rural medicine and public health specialist with a PhD in the health impacts of climate change. He currently works as the Tropical Diseases and Planetary Health Advisor at the headquarters of Médecins Sans Frontières in Geneva. Lachlan is an Associate Professor at James Cook University and is the founder and past Chair of Rocketship Pacific Ltd – an international non-profit organisation dedicated to improving health in Pacific Island countries.
Lachlan’s work has taken him to thirty different countries, and he has published over fifty scientific articles and textbook chapters. He regularly speaks at international conferences on health. For more information, visit drlachlanmciver.com or follow @lachlan_mciver on Twitter
About the book
Lachlan was sixteen when he found his father dead on the side of a dirt road in North Queensland, Australia. He had suffered a sudden heart attack and died alone. It was this tragedy that motivated Lachlan to train as a doctor specialising in providing medical care for people living in remote, resource-deprived locations.
Lachlan’s work with the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières has taken him to some of the world’s most extreme environments from the sinking islands of the Pacific to epidemics and war zones in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
In this no-holds-barred memoir, Lachlan recounts his experiences treating patients ravaged by tropical diseases, managing war wounds with drug-resistant infections, delivering babies by the light of a head torch, dealing with the devastating effects of climate change and narrowly avoiding being kidnapped by militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Tackling such impossible problems day in and day out inevitably takes a personal toll. Lachlan is ultimately forced to face his own battles with depression, alcohol abuse and bankruptcy.
Life and Death Decisions is a deeply human look at the personal cost of our broken global health system and a vital call to action.
Lachlan presents the good, the bad and the uncomfortable in this frank memoir. It’s not just a facts, experiences and accomplishments. It’s a stripping bare of emotions, of choices, and an examination of consequence of actions.
I found the most interesting aspect of this read was the way the author relates to his achievements. It’s as if it is a never-ending race to save and help as many people as possible, and yet never feeling a true sense of accomplishment, perhaps because the underlying trauma of a death he had no way of changing always sits on his shoulders as a constant companion.
There appears to be a lack of acknowledgement of his impact on the world and the people he endeavours to help and has helped throughout the years. The drive, the selflessness and often reckless regard for his own life and his close relationships. Even the last pages are a testament to how he wants to live life by example to change the path we have created, which is at odds with saving lives at this moment in time.
It’s a remarkable read, perhaps more so because he makes the hard work and dangerous situations look like second nature. It is food for thought – small steps for some of us, which will lead to bigger ones.