As featured in the Sunshine Coast Daily - Nov 2006
Cradling a dead child in your arms is hard to comprehend. So is the sight of 7000 lifeless bodies, riddled with cholera. Golden Beach doctor John Parker is "no hero" and he's certainly not immune to the terrible things he has seen. He claims he is just a man doing his job.
Dr Parker has returned from five months in Africa where he helped treat thousands of people as part of his missionary work. His first stop was Nigeria where he was one of four expats and 150 local people who worked in three hospitals. The team vaccinated 150,000 people against meningitis, a disease which affects the lining of the brain and treated hundreds more. "This is part of the meningitis belt," Dr Parker said. "Every 10 years they get a major epidemic in hundreds and thousands of people."
"There were a lot of cases, a lot of complaints of deafness and blindness" The mission didn't end there-in fact it was just the tip of an iceberg. Dr Parker relocated to northern Uganda where he was based in the Patonga camp where malaria, AIDS and pneumonia run riot and someone dies every day. About 40,000 people live in the camp, which is a safe haven from a rebel army that has been terrorising the area. "It's sad, especially handling dead children every-day," Dr Parker said. "You have a good cry at night sometimes but you have to focus on the good you're doing rather than the terrible things you see." "Without the clinics, more people would be dying."