Dr. Gardiner volunteered with Improving Global Health (IGH) to support project work in rural Cambodia. Partnered with the Maddox-Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP), IGH deploys long-term volunteers to work with Cambodian health workers to better healtcare and improve training.
'I’m a newly qualified GP working as a locum around Dorset and Hampshire at the moment. I also work in Accidents & Emergency in a couple of sites as well. It’s a great job.
IGH concentrates on non-clinical skills and leadership development within the NHS, and for me it stands apart from purely clinical roles. I could have worked anywhere in the world in one of those. But I wanted to push myself and learn skills outside the clinical roles where I would be able to bring back and apply to my job in the UK.
The project I work on is looking at household air pollution and the healthcare burdens that are rising from cooking solid fuels indoors. Now, actually this reaches out to the women in Samlot, because 99% of the cooks here are women. It empowers women to do something to change their own healthcare and that of their children. It has a very direct link to the environment, and it’s the cutting down of trees and the provision of solid fuels that’s driving this healthcare problem and we need to attack both at the same time.
Working within the healthcare department of MJP would be impossible without the help of our Cambodian colleagues within the healthcare team. I think that they’ve probably learnt more from that role than they realise – more from working with us than they realise. I see extraordinary leadership skills amongst these people and I think that they are the real drivers in this community in getting these projects set up. They command an enormous respect from the local population here and – both at a villager level and within the committees and political framework here in Samlout. And I think that without them, nothing would ever be achieved here.'