Subject: SMH: Doctor relies on hammer and nails
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:19:03 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald 07/06/99

EAST TIMOR: MODERN MEDICINE

Doctor relies on hammer and nails

By GREG BEARUP

Dr Kevin Baker described his trip to an East Timorese hardware shop with battle-worn black humour.

He and his staff rifled through boxes of nails, tested plastic pulleys, compared and purchased various types of hacksaw blades and left with lengths of nylon rope.

"In one case a fellow had had his leg fractured by a bullet," Dr Baker said.

They got the Timorese shop assistants to roll up their trousers to see if the nails would be long enough "which they thought was hilarious" - the length was right but the nails were a bit thick. They had to do.

They went back to the clinic and drove the nail through the bone of the man on the operating table "with a good old carpenter's hammer", and for the next six weeks the man lay in traction without any form of pain relief.

The anaesthetist from Liverpool Hospital and his wife, Elizabeth Glynn, a nurse, have just returned from a six-week stint treating the wounded of East Timor's grisly conflict.

In the past two years the number of Indonesian doctors in the province has dropped from more than 200 to about 60, with those remaining reluctant to treat the injured.

He and his wife, with the backing of the Mary McKillop Institute at St Marys, set up a crude surgery in a polyclinic at Dili, principally to treat those who are too scared to go to the government hospitals. They also ventured into the villages to treat the injured in hiding.

Dr Baker was there three times last year, but said that on the latest trip, for six weeks, the mood of the people had changed. "It was a small thing, but last year you'd drive past a school and the kids would give the victory sign with their fingers, a symbol of freedom," he said.

"Old men had a sparkle in their eyes and a sense that things would change. Now they shuffle about, eyes downcast. Gloom and fear is everywhere. Everyone knows someone who has disappeared. Some are dead, some are in hiding."

Anyone who would like to help Dr Baker can contact him through Liverpool Hospital.

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