Thursday, May 03, 2007

hot, hot, hot

I realise that the UK had just had the warmest spell 'since records began' but I would love to open a quick window to Vellore and let you feel the heat. With the thermometer hovering around 38-40 degrees C, it is dry and dusty with any breeze circulating the air like a blast furnace. Rain is a welcome relief and washes the trees and shrubs till they sparkle and glow. A few days back we were treated to a spectacular thunder and lightening show and ran through the rain to get a better view. My partners in the madness were Dinesh (from New York) and Graham (chaplain from Adelaide) Here they are making puris one night for our supper!! It has been so lovely to share my time here with many some very special people - thanks to them all. Many have left recently - partly to avoid the worst of the summer heat; and we say our fond farewells. Here is Nita leaving - also a chaplain from Adelaide. The car is an Indian classic and is driven by our friend and driver, Suren. Many Indian friends are planning an escape to the hills too as the children are on their summer break.

One of the excellent projects we are involved with is a Distance Learning Module for Family Practitioners that has it's inspiration and leadership from Dr Vinod Shah. Some of you will recognise him from the days when he was the Director of the Emmanuel Hospital Association. This programme runs over 2 years and has 200 family doctors registered . A great achievement - and much of it due to the innovative and professional way the course is run by Dr Shah and his team. We are writing palliative care modules for year 2 of the course and I joined a writing workshop in Pondicherry. It is a great way to get a group of 'experts' together and some hard graft done - while also enjoying a few days away from the business of CMC. It was fun to explore the streets of this old French area - of course very much Indian now. We did manage some 'Gallic inspired' food and I have some cheese - a real find in India. This course has an important role - as so many Indian in rural areas rely very much on their local doctors. Referrals to hospital may be simply too expensive for many. The standard of practice and training of family doctors can be very variable. The course is also linked with many rural mission hospitals and will have the 'contact sessions' delivered in several locations. Having palliative care as part of the training will help take the philosophy and some knowledge and skill to new areas. Let us hope that in turn, many people and their families who are in need will find benefit and support. Remember, only 3% of the people in this vast and amazing country have access to pain relief at present.

I am off to visit Kerala for some training programmes now so will tell you more in my next post.

ps Dr Danjuma - lovely to hear from you. Let me have your email and I will write.

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