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Dr Niamh O’Connor, 2015

niamh oconnor

I’m from county Kerry in the southwest of Ireland. I studied medicine and completed all of my medical training including specialist training in Palliative Care in Ireland. I also did a Masters in Medical Ethics and Law- my thesis theme being Justice in Advanced Cancer. Following completion of this I relocated to Australia in 2014 and worked as a Palliative Care Fellow in Barwon Health, Geelong for a year. I am now working as a Palliative Care specialist in The Royal Darwin Hospital. From here we cover all of the Top End rural and remote communities. It constantly amazes me how many similarities there are between remote communities in Australia and those I have worked with in the developing world.

My interest in working and supporting important initiatives in the developing world was sparked when I first travelled to Zimbabwe as a teenager to visit my brother who was working there. In university I was an active committee member on our fundraising project (Surgeon Noonan Project) to send funding and enthusiastic medical students to Africa. Through this project I did my medical elective in Mwanza, Tanzania and was blown away by the enthusiasm of my colleagues despite their hardships. During my training in Palliative Care I had the privilege of working in Hospice Africa Uganda in Kampala with the wondrous Dr. Anne Merriman for 6 months. Her ability to structure palliative care provision to suit its location and her drive to legalise opioids on the continent of Africa is quite incredible. Her work has and will result in comfort for millions.

I remained an active member on the Hospice Africa Ireland Committee from 2007-2014. I was delighted to learn of APLI through Dr.David Brumley and Dr. Rosalee Shaw. I think that we are privileged to live in lands of plenty. The concept of justice is very important to me in my practice. I believe that everyone should have access the care they need despite location or wealth and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to offer support and experience to those who share this goal.

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