My name is Emily Wise. I am 30 years old, am London-based and am a Specialist Registrar in Infectious Diseases and General Internal Medicine, but am currently on a one-year release from my training contract to work for MSF.

I am a third generation doctor: my father is a consultant neurologist and his father was a general practitioner and served as a doctor in the British army in Burma during World War II, so I guess medicine has always been in my blood.

I graduated from Cambridge University in 2003, attended The Royal Free and University College London Medical School to qualify as a doctor in 2006 and have a Masters in Science in Infectious Diseases from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). I’ve been lucky enough to train at The Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London, managing malaria and other nasties in returning travellers and persons new to the UK.

A significant part of my work has also involved looking after patients with tuberculosis and working in Intensive Care Units. I have previously worked in hospitals in India and Africa and I teach annually in Uganda on the LSHTM East African Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

A career in tropical medicine

I do not think I had considered a career in Tropical Medicine or contemplated working abroad until I attended a lecture as a 20 year-old undergraduate on human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, also known as sleeping sickness).

HAT is an apocalyptic parasitic disease that only affects rural and disenfranchised populations in sub-Saharan Africa and is uniformly fatal if left untreated. I learnt that the pharmaceutical industry had stopped producing most drugs for HAT as their sale generated insufficient profit. However, simultaneously a new production line for hair removal creams made from the anti-HAT drug eflornithine had opened in the USA.

From that point on my heart was set on pursuing a career in tropical medicine and international aid, as I am unable to accept that people should die unnecessarily and avoidably from communicable diseases. I do also believe that as doctors we have a global responsibility for health.

A happy byproduct of my work is that I get to have adventures travelling to exotic and far-flung places. This year I will be achieving a long-held ambition of mine to work for MSF. It was MSF who brought global attention to the anti-HAT drug crisis in 2001 and helped guarantee their future supply and throughout my travels I have come across MSF aid workers working hard to provide relief to those in the greatest need. On the rare occasions that I am not working, I love to spend time with my pals and family, travel, read and go jogging.

Listen to Emily on Everyday Emergency, the MSF podcast


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