The green and blue scrubs are the same as on TV, the concentration as intense as in any operating theatre. But beeping high-tech monitors are conspicuous by their absence. In remote areas of Darfur, the ICRC’s Flying Surgical Team performs life-saving operations under the shade of a baobab tree, with the simplest equipment.
“We can operate anywhere,” says Lizzie [a nurse on the ICRC’s Field Surgical Team (FST)], “as long as we can hang a mosquito net. And if we have to, we can just hang a mosquito net between our two trucks.” Those of us brought up on TV programmes full of high-tech operating theatres will have trouble imagining a surgeon working under a baobab tree, but that is the usual setting for most of the FST’s operations.