Mongolian Expedition

Shaw, Marc T.M. (2007) Mongolian Expedition. In: Wilder-Smith, Annelies, Schwarz, Eli, and Shaw, Marc, (eds.) Travel Medicine: tales behind the science. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 191-196.

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Abstract

Expedition medicine is becoming a lot more popular with travelers now, so 'tis important to have some idea about it when advising on issues of remote travel. I was approached to give medical expertise on an expedition to Outer Mongolia whose role was to find out how many snow leopards are there in the region. The task sounded quite exciting actually, and apart from my role as Expedition Doctor (ED), I figured that I would have an equally hard task of keeping beloved Lynne, also known as 'the Memsahib', actively enthusiastic about the journey. When I mentioned the idea to her, she was bland faced and not too much excited; so I declined to tell her about the camping we would be doing at altitude in the snowline. OK, so it was a mistake, more so because the region just happens to be 'quite' windy and she hates wind. Had to be careful, else I fear that morale could dip a little on our journey. Figured that I would take lots of happy-juice and family photos along with me. The modern practice of expedition medicine is to encourage adventure but to attempt to minimize the risk of trauma and diseases by proper planning involving risk assessment, preventive measures such as vaccinations, prophylactic drugs and medical equipment, knowledge of first aid, emergency and primary healthcare skills, communication skills, and an attitude of caring for both the anticipated team and the anticipated cultures of the expedition. So, the usual 'medical stuff' but with expedition planning needs to cover all contingencies: from mild illnesses and disease to group health insurances, through to unforeseen events such as evacuating a seriously-ill, injured or dead person. Important also in the pre-trip planning is local knowledge of the area to be traveled. To tl1is end, the ED needs to investigate local lmowledge in the country. This was hard to do in Mongolia, mainly because very few people speak English and there are very few adequate medical facilities outside the main city of Ulaanbaatar. Many groups of expeditioners travel without a doctor, nurse or suitably qualified paramedic. Notwithstanding this, an experienced doctor is a valuable member of any team and has the role of looking after such medically related issues as managing pre-existing health problems, advising on suitable immunizations and anti-malarials, assessing any travel-related health risks, and finally making preparations for the trip that include the assembly of a suitable medical kit. Good stuff, but hard work. Medical problems may arise during or after the expedition and the ED needs confidence in dealing with the varying demands of an expedition team, which will vary enormously depending on the individuals, the task of the expedition and the location.

Item ID: 2984
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
Keywords: travel; mongolian expidition
ISBN: 978-0-08-045359-0
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2009 01:46
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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