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By: John Parker

From Cholera to Ebola

Pages: 212 Ratings: 4.8
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"We've been invited to witness a bonfire of marijuana by the Taliban. Anyone interested?" Amid the missionaries, mercenaries and misfits drawn to the world's most dangerous and volatile hotspots stands Dr John Parker. From Cholera to Ebola is a captivating collection of true stories 25 years in the making. Whether challenging the bureaucracy of refugee camps to cradling children as they died, Dr Parker operated far from his comfort zone, from the norms of medical practice and from the decencies of humanity. His is a life that swung from heartbreaking hopelessness to sheer ecstasy as he battled PTSD to chase his next 'fix' over increasingly dangerous missions. "There are some things you cannot be taught; you have to live them."
Dr John Parker was born and bred in Liverpool, UK and medically trained at Edinburgh University. He came to Australia to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef and never returned. He commenced a medical practice in Airlie Beach in Queensland to follow a passion in diving medicine and later worked at Golden Beach in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. Intermittently he has ventured with the Red Cross and MSF on humanitarian medical missions including 3 war zones, 2 epidemics and several refugee camps. More recently he has worked as SMO in the refugee detention centres on Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island, medical officer in an Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone and spent a year as an expedition medical officer on Davis Station in Antarctica. He is presently working on Thursday Island in the Torres Straits. He has written 'The Sports Diving Medical" and "Poetic Prescriptions for Feeling Good".
Customer Reviews
10 reviews
10 reviews
  • john Lippmann

    Zaire, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Uganda, Iraq, Sudan, Nauru, Manus and Christmas Islands certainly aren’t on most people’s must-visit destinations. However, for a self-admitted adrenaline junkie looking for a greater purpose in life than his cushy northern Queensland lifestyle and thriving general practice, Dr John Parker set off into the midst of the ravages of war, famine and disease to provide much needed humanitarian medical care.
    This book describes each mission and clearly and lucidly documents the external and personal challenges and trauma involved with delivering essential healthcare to such desperate populations. It clearly describes Dr Parker’s personal struggles in dealing with the challenges confronting him, and the high personal cost in the form of its effect on past and future relationships and the insidious onset of PTSD.
    From Cholera to Ebola is a fascinating and spellbinding account of the challenges facing humanitarian workers in such places. It is very well-crafted, with the tragedy interspersed with Dr Parker’s humour, sense of irony and valuable insights into himself and his surrounds. It lays out bare his personal battle with PTSD and provides a pathway for others to manage and hopefully avoid similar struggles.
    A great book and a must-read for humanitarian adventurers.

    John Lippmann

  • Dr John

    What a fascinating read- highly recommended

  • JACB

    This is a remarkably honest and self-effacing book describing over 25 years working as a doctor in some of the most dangerous and troubled places on the planet. These range from civil war in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) to Afghanistan at the height of the Taliban insurgency. His most recent experience was treating Ebola victims in Sierra Leone. It shows a tenacious commitment to his calling but also leads to a significant toll that was eventually recognised as PTSD. Like many medics he was late in self-diagnosis. The format, written as a confession to an unnamed psychologist rather than a priest. works well which is perhaps ironic as Dr Parker is a self-confessed “lapsed Catholic”. There is none of the aggrandisement seen in other books written by doctors working in the humanitarian setting and it is unlikely that you will not be moved by this account.

  • Lara

    True stories written first-hand by a doctor venturing into situations and places most of us either don’t think about or can’t even imagine.
    The narrative is woven together through a conversation he has with a psychologist about how his experiences affected him and how he comes to terms with and overcomes his ensuing PTSD. It is simultaneously a view into the human condition, both the harsh and the hopeful, and a truly fascinating adventure into the unknown.

  • Julia

    Interesting structure and delivery of a wide-ranging series of events over an extended period of time. The reliving of these events were both concise and compelling to the reader to see outcomes some of which were unexpected. Johns profession meant he ‘lived’ situations beyond most of us but his reactions were interesting for us the readers to imagine how we might manage in the situation.

  • Peter

    I am fortunate to have read the draft of this raw account of human suffering, of displacement, sickness, civil wars and John's process in dealing with PTSD. Congratulations John, a story which I found quite confronting. a story not to be read by the faint-hearted, an eyeopener and riveting, a book hard to put down.

  • Lesley Storkey

    This is a journey of compassion, service and humility. But it is also a long journey of self-awareness and John has shared with us so much that we can also learn and benefit from his AHA moments. This is not just a book for his friends (of which I am humbled to be one) but for anyone who has struggled or is continuing to struggle with a sense of self, self-worth and existence. Thank you and I intend to share this for a Leadership Book Club contender on the International Board of which I am a member.

  • Ricky

    This is a book that we should all have and read, a story told by an incredible man, doctor, humanitarian, and just plain humble soul.
    I love the format, it gives the reader time to digest some of the confronting and crazy events and to see them through John Parker's eyes.
    His story is told with frankness, compassion and humour, the reader is transported across the globe to refugee camps, war zones , then despite the mental toll he rallied to confront the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone with phenominal results.
    Strap yourself in and go on this journey with the author, a journey that will stay with you long after you put this unique and aweinspiring book down.

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