“It’s a lot of make it up as you go.” Dr. Jack Chamberlain has been practicing medicine in rural areas around the world since 1993.  A U. S. based physician turned humanitarian aid worker, he has practiced medicine everywhere from the ER of Detroit to the war-torn jungles of Burma.

“Marginalized medicine” is a term very dear to his heart, and he defines it as “anywhere that people have a really hard time accessing modern medicine–like if they have to walk two days to get any kind of medicine, regardless of what it is.  They have no access to a doctor or nurse of any kind, the best they have is often like a local shopkeeper.”

Doctors today have years of institutionalized medical training under their belts, and they are surrounded by a full staff with years of experience, tons of equipment and access to books and internet to back them all up.  Not to say it’s an easy job by any means, but there’s an existing system to support them.

Dr. Chamberlain at a field clinic.

A lot of experienced western doctors come out on trips to support Dr. Chamberlain, but they run into all sorts of problems (that he ran into as well at one point).  Western medicine is “generally geared toward mainstream problems.  In marginalized areas, you have stuff that people just aren’t trained in.  You have infectious diseases that people in central areas have never seen before.”  For example, in the United States immunizations have generally taken care of measles, but out in Burma they will have epidemics more often than you’d think.  The U. S. public health system has effectively combated malaria in the west, but it remains one of the biggest killers out in places where public health hasn’t progressed in decades.