DR Anne Berrich enthralled the members of North Bute Literary Society with her talk on ‘A Trip to the Amazon’ last Tuesday night.
Twice in the last few years Anne has joined a small group of health care professionals, including doctors, dentists and nurses, to work for two weeks on the Amazon Hope floating ‘health centre’ in Peru.
his was under the auspices of the Vine Trust (www.vinetrust.org) and Anne explained how the organisation started and has evolved.
The Amazon Hope is one of two converted ex Royal Navy fleet diving tenders, and is equipped with medical equipment and accommodation. She journeys along the River Ucayali, which is one of the main headwater tributaries of the mighty Amazon, and the volunteer medical staff on board take basic health services to isolated villages.
Anne’s slides showed how the locals crowded the muddy river banks everywhere the ship moored, and even the non-medical audience could appreciate how delivering simple remedies such as antibiotics and analgesics, and performing dental surgery, has a great impact on the lives of the villagers.
From her medical perspective, Dr Berrich was dealing mostly with skin complaints, common childhood ailments and endemic diarrhoeal illness, with a sprinkling of gruesome-looking tropical lesions.
Anne clearly enjoyed the opportunity of interacting with a totally different culture. Her slides and descriptions brought to life how these river people live, work and play in this hot, steamy area and how important the fast flowing muddy water is to them.
The patients were always very appreciative of their treatment. One lady wanted to give Anne the present of a parrot; she managed to tactfully decline the offer, but the patient’s next colourful bird was to be named Anne in her honour!
From the heat and glaring sun of the Amazon the Lit members went out from the Pavilion to the freezing fog of the Clyde vowing to be more appreciative of our 24 hour accessible NHS.
At the next Lit meeting, on Tuesday, February 1, Lyn Bulloch will give a talk on ‘Home Fyne Homes’. (Isabel Sharp)