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Health inequality

Global health

Rural medicine

Life and Death Decisions

Dr Lachlan McIver

The impossible job of a doctor in some of the world's wildest places.

I found Dad dead on the side of a dirt road. I was sixteen; he was forty-nine.


After Lachlan McIver’s father suffers a sudden, fatal heart attack it sends him into a spiral of grief and outrage. This tragedy inspires him to become a doctor and he eventually finds his calling – providing care for communities in some of the most remote and neglected parts of the world.


In this no-holds-barred memoir, Lachlan recounts his experiences treating patients and tackling health problems across dozens of countries, from rural communities around Australia and the islands of the South Pacific, through natural disasters and civil war zones, to the headquarters of the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in Switzerland.


Lachlan is forced to confront not only the frustrations of trying to provide medical care in extremely under-resourced environments, but broader crises such as health inequities, climate change and drug-resistant infections. He also faces his own personal battles, including with depression, alcohol abuse and bankruptcy.


This is a deeply human look at the personal cost of our broken global health system, and how we must work together to change it for the better. It’s what we need right now.

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About the author

Dr Lachlan McIver specialises in rural & remote medicine, tropical medicine and public health, and did his PhD on the health impacts of climate change. Originally from Millaa Millaa in Far North Queensland, his travels to date have spanned almost one hundred countries. He has co-authored close to fifty scientific publications in medical journals and textbooks on topics ranging from environmental health and infectious diseases to anaesthetics and emergency medicine. He is an adjunct Associate Professor at James Cook University in Australia and the co-founder of the international non-profit organisation Rocketship Pacific Ltd, which focuses on improving health in Pacific island countries. He currently lives in Switzerland, where he works as the Tropical Diseases & Planetary Health Advisor at the Geneva headquarters of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).