The Mountain Club of South Africa

Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness Medicine Articles in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ)

Sparked by the death of the renowned South African rally driver, Gugu Zulu, on 18 July 2016 on Mount Kilimanjaro, Club members Dr Rik De Decker and Dr Ross Hofmeyr decided to write an article on the risks, avoidance and treatment of high altitude illness (HAI). They had been approached on many occasions for advice on wilderness and expedition medicine and the lack of readily obtainable information on HAI was a frequent concern. Death due to ascent to altitude is entirely avoidable if one takes all the necessary precautions. Too often illness and death are simply due to a lack of knowledge of the risks, and they hoped to make this information easily available and accessible.

Dr Bridget Farham, editor of the SAMJ (South African Medical Journal), then suggested that they should add similar articles on other leading causes of wilderness injuries and accidents. These pieces – two editorials and six articles – written with the assistance of several other authors, were published in the July and August 2017 editions of the SAMJ. They are freely available to MCSA members as downloadable PDFs, by clicking on the hyperlinks below. Ranging from altitude illness to human factors, the articles are not a comprehensive treatise on wilderness medicine, but deal with some of the commonest medical problems encountered by wilderness travellers. Please feel free to contact the authors should you have any questions.