Helping the helpless

Helping the helpless

Paediatric doctor Daniel Langer worked unpaid for six months in Rwanda to help improve the survival of new-born babies.

Daniel (OE 1991–1998), who has been practicing for ten years and is now at senior registrar level, visited the central-east African nation as part of a year he took out of the NHS to pursue his interest in global child health, infectious diseases and medical education.

“Neonatal mortality is the biggest cause of death worldwide in the under-fives and in Rwanda it is very high, partly because it is still a developing country with limited access to resources, but also because of a lack of medical professionals in the country since the genocide in 1994,” he writes.

“Much of the mortality and morbidity is preventable; simple bottom-up programmes, such as providing basic access to care and basic training can make a huge difference.

“We have trained doctors and worked on the neonatal units, introducing care packages and simple equipment including CPAP (‘continuous positive airway pressure’), which helps support breathing in low birth-weight and premature babies. We have also been involved in teaching paediatrics to doctors and in leading resuscitation courses.”

Daniel has previously worked in The Gambia and Malawi, and he is soon to set up programmes in DR Congo.

He is in the process of creating an e-learning website to be used in these settings. It will give medical students, junior doctors, nurses and midwives the opportunity to complete basic interactive training in new-born care.

Daniel, who is a paediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital, London, went straight to Leeds University Medical School on leaving QE. He qualified as a doctor in 2004. He worked in York for a year, before taking up a post in paediatric emergency care in Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia, in 2005-2006.

He then moved back to London to undertake his eight-year paediatric training, working in the following hospitals: Barnet; Chase Farm, University College London, Great Ormond Street and his current workplace of St Mary’s, London.

In 2010, he completed a post-graduate diploma in paediatric infectious diseases at Oxford University.

His particular specialisms encompass children with serious and complex infections that are difficult to diagnose and treat, such as tuberculosis. He is also interested in paediatric HIV, congenital infections, imported infections and Kawasaki disease, as well as vaccinology, immune-compromised patients (such as cancer patients, transplant patients, or those with very rare immunodeficiency syndromes), bone marrow transplants and the proper use of antibiotics.

He dates his interest in global health to an elective placement he undertook in 2003 as part of his medical training.  This was a small project on SARS awareness in Borneo at the time of an outbreak of the respiratory disease there.

In The Gambia, he worked in hospitals and created a three-day education course for health care workers in the recognition of childhood tuberculosis – a major problem in that region, even though many do not recognise it as important. This has now been successfully run five times for approximately 150 trainees. He also played a small part in a research trial involving a new meningitis A vaccine for Africa.

Alongside his work, Daniel likes photography and travel; he has visited more than 60 countries, while his entry in this year’s well known Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition reached the final round of judging. He enjoys sports including skiing, diving, surfing and football.

  • Daniel is seeking funding for the e-learner website, as neonatal mortality in resource-poor countries is the largest cause of under-five mortality. He hopes that by providing simple basic training online, this problem can be significantly reduced.  Any Old Elizabethans who can help are invited to contact the alumni office on; they will then be put in touch with him.