(ThePoles.com) Bill Hanlon is Founder and Medical Director of Basic Health International (BHI) Foundation and one of the Everest summiteers who will challenge themselves on skis this season.
He does all these extreme adventures to promote this Foundation whose aim is to promote and develop public health and primary health care projects in remote and high altitude communities.
Bill spoke to ExWebs Correne Coetzer about BHI and shared his thoughts about skiing to the South Pole.
ExplorersWeb: When and why was the Basic Health International Foundation founded?
Bill: The foundation was set up in 2003 to promote and develop public health and primary health care projects in remote and high altitude communities. We focus on simple, cost effective, sustainable and culturally acceptable solutions to improve the health of people living in such remote communities.
ExplorersWeb: In practice, what do you do?
Bill: Our projects vary from improved nutrition strategies and TB eradication in Tibet, to palliative care among HIV patients in Ethiopia, to satellite supported telemedicine in Peru.
ExplorersWeb: Where do you run your current projects/programs?
Bill: Tibet, Nepal, Ladakh, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Peru and Honduras and upcoming projects in Afghanistan and West Papua.
ExplorersWeb: What are the difficulties that you encounter in your work in these remote areas?
Bill: Access, as result of political and geographical reasons. Some areas are difficult to access in wintertime because of weather and remoteness. Local people are very receptive to our presence.
ExplorersWeb: Who is your foundation team?
Bill: We comprise of a group of health professionals including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, health educators, pharmacists and physiotherapists.
ExplorersWeb: How do you involve the local people in your foundations activities?
Bill: We always consult and engage the local community in planning, development an maintenance of each project. Each project is based on the needs of each individual community.
ExplorersWeb: Where are you based?
Bill: We are based in western Canada.
ExplorersWeb: How have you highlighted the work of the foundation through your expeditions?
As part of highlighting the health needs of remote communities, I have recently completed the last of the 7 Summits, reaching the summit of Carstenz on October 16, 2009 (Everest in
2007). As extension of this project, I am joining this 3 person HI to SP ski expedition in Nov 2009 (ANI/Eric Larsen).
ExplorersWeb: How can someone who is interested in this health foundation get involved?
Bill: Financial donations can be made online at www.basichealthinternational.org. People with specific skills can email to info at basichealthinternational dot org.
ExplorersWeb: You are an accomplished mountaineer. Skiing to the South Pole is quite different. How is your mindset different, and the same, as before a mountain expedition?
Bill: I am looking forward to the new challenge of more extensive polar travel. Our medical work emphasizes improvisations and working with limited resources. This trip will parallel many similar issues.
I am looking forward to observing the physical and mental challenges that go along with such an expedition as well as group dynamics. Interesting to observe the varying strengths and weaknesses of each team member at different stages of the expedition.
The overall strength of the group often carries us all through those rough patches. Extensive periods of polar travel highlight these issues more.
ExplorersWeb: What do you think will be the biggest difference between the mountains and the Poles?
Bill: More remote, less access to rescue, more extreme weather for longer periods.
ExplorersWeb: When times go tough on the ice, what will help you through?
Bill: Stubbornness, feisty Irish roots, team player, music
Dr. William (Bill) Hanlon, Founder and Medical Director of Basic Health International Foundation and Seven Summit summiteer will be part of Eric Larsens ANI/ALE Hercules Inlet ski team to the South Pole (1130 km). The third member of the team is Dongsheng Liu. All three resides in Canada. They will be resupplied on Antarctica.
Bill was born in 1954 and lives single in Cochrane (west of Calgary) in Alberta Canada. He does International Medical Volunteer work, Travel and Tropical Medicine and Family Practice. His special interests are adventure travel, expedition and high altitude medicine, international health, migrant and refugee health and medical volunteer work.
As hobbies Bill explorers mountains and enjoys kayaking. His favorite book is Beauty by John ODonoghue, favorite movie, Once and he likes Tortier a French-Canadian dish. On his music player will be works of Bach and Celtic music.
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