World Extreme Medicine News

Our Virtual World Extreme Medicine Conference was jam-packed with some of the world’s most respected medics, world-leading adventurers and internationally acclaimed explorers sharing their experiences and knowledge on what extreme medicine has meant to them.

Throughout the sessions they inspired and encouraged delegates with their own personal stories and experiences and shared new innovations, expertise and wisdom in medicine conducted in challenging and often harsh and dangerous environments.

Here were just a few of the highlights:

Speaker: David Wightwick, Chief Executive Officer, UK-Med

With a background in senior roles in the humanitarian sector and now in his current position as the Chief Executive of UK-Med, David examined the factors that inform a humanitarian medical response to infectious disease outbreak, the roles of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Emergency Medical Teams (EMT), Humanitarian and Health Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), how they work together and examples of UK Emergency Medical Team activities.

Starting from a global perspective and then honing down to the detail, session attendees gained invaluable insights into how responses differ and evolve depending on the need – drawing from live UK EMT /UK Med case studies including: the Rohingya Refugee Camps, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh; Lebanon – following the August explosion at Beirut Port; Ghana and Chad. This was not to be missed session if you were interested in international emergency medical response.

Session: Global Impact and Emergency Medical Team Responses to COVID-19
When: Day 2 – Sunday 18th October at 2.15pm
Where: Stage 1



Session: Remote Medical Support supporting the TV & film industry around the world

Have you ever wondered how you can become an expedition medic working on some of the world’s largest film projects?
Wonder no more as WEM’s Media Medical Director Dr Joe Rowles Remote Medical Support Specialist joined us on Day 1 of the conference talking about his top tips for combining adventure with your medical career. With an incredible CV providing remote medical support stretching back through to projects in Borneo, Cambodia, Congo, Guatemala, Pakistan, Iran and Costa Rica, Joe drew on his own experiences including his time on ‘CBS Survivor’ and most recently leading the WEM Medical Team supporting the World’s Toughest Race in Fiji now showing on Amazon Prime. Here’s a small insight into what it takes to work on the #worldstoughestrace as the film crew caught up with Joe in the bonus material for Episode 6.

Who: Joe Rowles, Project Director
When: Day 1 – Saturday 17th October at 10.00am
Where: Stage 1


Session: Medical Challenges on the Moon, Mars and Beyond

This session was perfect for anyone with an interest in the future of human spaceflight, and the challenges that come with it. As the international community eyes ever-distant and increasingly ambitious destinations, we must consider the challenges that come with delivering healthcare in such hostile environments. During this session Shawna covered the risks of the human spaceflight environment, including, but not limited to physiological changes, design constraints, the ideal standard of care, emerging challenges that come with far-off locales, and ended by examining the novel technologies and concepts that will help overcome these challenges.

Who: Shawna Pandya, Physician, Aquanaut, Speaker
When: Day 1 – Saturday 17th October at 3.30pm
Where: Stage 2


Speaker: Stephen Fabes, Doctor, Cyclist, Presenter, Author

Stephen Fabes is an A&E doctor and author with a bad case of wanderlust and no sense of direction. He finally found his way home in 2016 after cycling the length of six continents – a six-year adventure across 75 countries and 53,000 miles.

In this session, Stephen told us the story of a six year bike ride around the world, and how he visited remote medical clinics en-route and explored the social context of health and disease. He discussed his experience at various medical projects, from mobile medical clinics in northern Kenya and floating medical clinics on the Tonle Sap in Cambodia, to mental health rehab in Mumbai, orthopaedic wards in Afghanistan and the Jungle in Calais. We heard tales of adventure alongside an examination of the cost of marginalisation, and its effect on the health gap

If you’re a medic with a sense of adventure and a passion for storytelling or has an interest in the social determinants of health this session was a must watch!

Session: To the ends of the Earth: Cycling Six Continents
When: Day 1 – Saturday 17th October at 5.30pm
Where: Stage 1



Session: From expedition medicine to marine conservation: one doctor’s journey

This session appealed to any health care professional who wants to help tackle global health inequality and use their skills to serve the world’s hardest to reach communities. Vik made a compelling case for thinking holistically about human and environmental wellbeing, sharing principles that are applicable to every aspect of health care.

Working as an expedition medic for Blue Ventures in southwest Madagascar, Exeter based GP Vik Mohan uncovered a huge unmet need for health care among coastal communities. Through integrating health services into Blue Ventures’ existing conservation efforts, he has witnessed first-hand the multiple benefits of working in this integrated and holistic way, from improved natural resource management and community resilience, through to improvements in maternal and child health. During his session, Vik shared his experiences of integrating health care with conservation and how improved health enabled these communities to better engage in marine conservation.

Who: Vik Mohan, GP
When: Day 2 – Sunday 18th October at 4.30pm
Where: Stage 1


Speaker: Aruv Gupta, FY4 Doctor

Arav is a London-based FY4 doctor with two firm beliefs: First, it’s not about how fast you climb to the top of the ladder, but rather how much of the view you drink in on every rung. And secondly, behind every failure lies growth.

A promising FY3 packed with long-awaited expedition work was curtailed due to Covid-19, but a silver lining came in the opportunity to work as a medic with marine conservation charity Sea Shepherd. The mission: an offshore campaign against illegal and unreported (IUU) fishing in Gabon. Three months at sea has provided ample opportunities to practice remote healthcare as well as invaluable headspace to reflect on an unprecedented year. He’s learnt about the importance of human factors on expedition, why harnessing failure is essential for progress and even a little jungle etiquette on safari! During his session, Arav shed light on these themes and more, and of course he shared the odd nautical tale or three – it’s not all been plain sailing!

Session: Setting sail with Sea Shepherd: Life as a Medical Doctor aboard a marine conservation project
When: Day 2 – Sunday 18th October at 11.45am
Where: Stage 2


Feeling inspired? #WEM21 A New World Awaits…

Join us this year (13th – 15th Nov) for our 10 year anniversary, where for the first time in WEM history, you can either attend in person at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh or online via our brand new Virtual WEM Environment – we guarantee you an experience like no other! Book your place today!

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