Gisborne Herald Interview

Added to site: Jan 17 at 4:50p.m.
While locuming in Gisborne / East Coast, New Zealand, for a month before coming to Vanuatu, I was interviewed by The Gisborne Herald. The Gisborne Herald has been an avid longtime supporter of both myself, TroppoDoc, and Margaret Thorpe (TroppoDoc founding member and longtime friend, volunteer and supporter), as well as other volunteers from Gisborne region. The article was published on Tuesday 16th January, 2018.


Doctor Derek Allen, of TroppoDoc, was back in Gisborne over Christmas before flying out to Vanuatu.

He was working for Ngati Porou Hauora on the East Coast before resuming his work in the Third World.

The non-governmental organisation TroppoDoc was founded in 2002 to help provide free and much-needed medical care to those in need in the developing world.

Dr Allen said he was happy to be working on the East Coast. There were health and socio-economic issues on the Coast - "but compared to other (overseas) places where I have worked, it is just fine”. 

Since 2002, Dr Allen has worked in various countries, including Vanuatu, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, India, Malawi, Guinea and in Somaliland, a largely unrecognised state, which broke away from Somalia.

There was a legal requirement to hire armed guards in Somaliland.

He said there were very high rates of trachoma infection in the Solomons. Left untreated, the eye condition could lead to visual impairment or blindness.

Factors contributing to the transmission of the disease included unclean water, poor hygiene, crowded households, and inadequate latrines and sanitation facilities. 

Female infanticide was "a huge problem” in India and was linked to poverty and cultural issues.

Meanwhile, in Malawi there was a high mortality rate among expectant mothers. 

Dr Allen said he and other volunteers, doctors, nurses and non-medical volunteers were prepared to live and work in difficult and demanding conditions because the work was rewarding. He added that TroppoDoc accepts new volunteers and thanked Rotary and OPSM for their support.


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