Stories of worldwide impact

We are proud to support the positive contribution being made by UK collaborations with low-and-middle income countries. Several RCR members are already involved in voluntary work overseas and are advocates for what can be achieved in the improvement of global healthcare.

In this section, volunteers share their work, knowledge and experience across various locations. It is important to understand the challenges by listening to first-hand accounts of healthcare professionals working in low-resource settings – but it is equally powerful to hear how valued our volunteers have felt.

Volunteer stories

The doctors, nurses, pharmacists and support staff worked hard to provide the best care possible for their patients, and it was enlightening to see how these significant challenges were overcome in the context of a resource-limited setting.

The highlight of my time here in Dormaa Presbytarian Hospital was teaching a more vast group of allied medical professionals from nurses, matrons, radiographers, midwives and receptionists. I was particularly impresses by how knowledgeable and keen everyone was to learn.

A fantastic and extremely rewarding time which I will always cherish.

... it is an enormous privilege to have the opportunity to teach at an institution that, through good practice, teaching and education, is making such a tremendous humanitarian effort.

Map of projects

Two different cities, two different experiences

Teaching at hospitals in some of the world's poorer countries can be a very rewarding experience for doctors. We asked recipients of RCR's international fellowships to tell us more about their time abroad. Here, Dr Sumita Chawla, a consultant radiologist at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, talks of her time teaching in Ghana and India.

Where did you travel to teach radiology?

My first trip was to Ghana in West Africa in 2013. This was a self-funded voluntary project for just under two weeks. I taught doctors and allied medical professionals mostly plain film reporting and ultrasound in two district general hospitals - one in Techiman, the other in Dormaa - where there was no formal department run by radiologists. My next trip was to Bangalore, India three years later in 2016 after I was awarded the RCR Prafulla Kumar Ganguli Professorship. This was a two-week fully-funded project to teach trauma radiology and to set up Trauma Multidisciplinary team meetings (MDTM) for doctors and other medical professionals in a large teaching hospital - St John’s Medical College Hospital.

What were the personal rewards from both trips? 

From my more recent trip to India, I gained the ability to deliver and change the current and evolving concepts of trauma radiology. Setting up a trauma MDTM in a non-major trauma centre was extremely satisfying. The trip to Africa was my inaugural visit to teach radiology in a low to middle income country so the highlight was the thirst and appetite to achieve further in this field of radiology. New links, future innovative ideas and memories from both trips all sit along the chain of rewards. 

What challenges did you face?

The social and economic restrictions can be frustrating which does have an important impact on patient care. You get to appreciate the great service provided by the NHS in the UK. Changing the mindset of doctors, allied medical professionals and managers in their routine everyday practice in departments is a hurdle to overcome.   

What did you learn from your experience?

Overall, you attain a bigger appreciation of what we have here in the UK and what we can achieve in departments, whether it is a district or teaching hospital and despite the current climate of limited resources and funding. 

And your advice to clinicans considering work in a low or middle-income country?

Like most things in life you need focus, determination, attitude and will power to never give up on making things happen. No matter what stage you are at, trainee or consultant, get involved with projects, be it small or big. Find out what is out there, gain support from your department and bring your ideas forward! Being part of the clinical radiology global health care and delivering philanthropic international work gives you the opportunity to make a significant contribution with your knowledge and dedication.           

Dr Sumita Chawla is consultant radiologist specialising in gastrointestinal/abdominal and trauma at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool. She is passionate about teaching and holds the post of Honorary Lecturer for the University of Liverpool. Having completed her Postgraduate in Teaching and Learning in Clinical Practice in 2015, she was subsequently appointed a Member of the Academy of Medical Educators in 2016 and then, as Training Programme Director. She has presented widely in national and international meetings, frequently as an invited lecturer and has several publications in the field of radiology.

If you have experience of teaching abroad and would like to share with us, please email