About Diagnosis & Treatment

Primary health care workers see patients before any other trained health workers. Primary health care workers diagnose common and important health problems and prescribe medicines. However, they may have little formal medical training and little access to help and advice. They often work in health centres with few medicines or resources. Good training for primary health care workers is, therefore, very important.

Since the first edition of Diagnosis and Treatment was published in 2000, through Voluntary Services Overseas, non-communicable diseases have overtaken infectious disease as the primary causes of death in developing countries. This new edition reflects the new priorities that primary health care workers have as they face the challenge of providing care with limited resources and uncertain levels of support from supervising clinicians.

Meet the team

Keith Birrell

Keith is a volunteer doctor in Mfuwe, Zambia and a locum GP in the UK. He was senior partner and GP trainer for many years at Herrington Medical Centre in Sunderland, UK. Herrington achieved Outstanding in their 2020 CQC inspection. Keith is lead author of patientcentre.org a website hosting toolkits for shared decision-making in primary care. He is also lead author of realgeneralpractice.org a website created to help GP trainees to improve their communication skills and improve their ability to share decisions with their patients in an evidence based way. He worked in Tanzania with Voluntary Services Overseas.

Ginny Birrell

Ginny is a volunteer doctor in Mfuwe, Zambia and a locum consultant paediatrician in the UK. Ginny was a consultant paediatrician at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough UK for 17 years. She was clinical director of the Department of Paediatrics for 5 years. She led the diabetes and endocrinology services and developed services for paediatric gynaecology and eating disorders. She worked in Tanzania with Voluntary Services Overseas.

Ian Cross

Soon after qualifying, Dr Ian Cross worked for the Save the Children Fund in Burkina Faso, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Northeast Thailand and The Gambia. He took a break to train as a GP in North Devon, then worked for British Aid as Chief Medical Officer in a province of the Solomon Islands, followed by a stint as senior medical advisor to the ODA (Africa). Since retiring from 25 years full-time general practice in Leicester, he has worked for Médecins Sans Frontières in Eswatini, Delhi, Bangladesh and Kenya. He is also a volunteer doctor in Mfuwe, Eastern Zambia.