WA Backpacker medic to provide urgent aid to Rohingya refugees

Notre Dame Medicine student, Anthony Gadenne, will lead a team of WA health care professionals to provide urgent medical aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

27 November 2017

A second-year Medicine student from The University of Notre Dame Australia will lead a team of West Australian paramedics, nurses and health care workers to provide urgent medical aid to Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, 450,000 of whom have been displaced from the neighbouring Myanmar.

Anthony Gadenne is a member of the Australian Disaster Response Group, a branch of the WA not-for-profit organisation Backpacker Medics. The Group provides post-disaster medical care to remote regions of the world – including communities in mountainous and potentially dangerous terrain.

Anthony and his team of eight will provide care and medical aid to sick and injured Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar District, 40km from the Myanmar border – treating people for machete and gunshot wounds, burns, tuberculosis, and life-threatening dehydration and malnutrition, amongst other ailments.

As part of the 14-day mission, the team will recruit a team of Rohingya volunteers and train them in basic first aid, patient assessment, extrication and transport. The initial team of around 20 volunteers will be equipped with uniforms, First Aid kits, medical supplies and patient transport equipment, such as stretchers.

The aim of the training initiative is to create a Rohingya Volunteer Ambulance Network – a group capable of delivering immediate on-the-ground care with ongoing support from Backpacker Medics to the growing number of refugees presenting with problems from violence and persecution to those with long-term chronic illnesses.

“Given the vastness of these refugee camps and the incredibly taxing conditions, we have encountered patients who were becoming critically ill simply because they could not make it to suitable health care facilities,” said Anthony, a former SAS soldier turned paramedic.

Anthony originally became involved with Backpacker Medics in 2014 while working in a remote health clinic in Nepal. In the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake that killed close to 9000 people, he returned to Nepal to provide medical aid to people in remote regions that were in desperate need of assistance.

“The experience of assisting people facing desperate hardship can further shape my knowledge and skills as a second-year Medicine student and give me the courage to enter the medical profession with confidence,” Anthony said.

On Saturday 9 December, global broadcaster Al Jazeera heard about Anthony's efforts and tracked him down for an interview whilst on the front line of the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangalesh. This interview went live across Al Jazeera's news networks to an estimated audience of 35 million people.

To watch the story, please visit Al Jazeera.

Media Contact – Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093; leigh.dawson@nd.edu.au