For your personal use
Obviously, what you take varies from person to person, place to place and according to the length of time you will be away. There may be items of medical/surgical equipment that you feel you can't do without – particular type of needle holder, retractor or headlight – but do not take goods or equipment for your own personal use which those in the overseas hospital don't possess and can't afford, unless you intend to donate the equipment to them on your departure. Take equipment for teaching and practice and take the very best that can be sustained.
Don't forget the medical texts you might need and a copy of the latest CMF Developing Health
CD Rom. Get on the e-TALC
mailing list so that you receive their teaching CDs - www.talcuk.org/etalc/
Check out details of the electricity supply and the kind of plugs and adaptors you might need and what sort of computer to bring etc. Check the situation regarding mobile phone networks and which Sim card to purchase if appropriate. Don't neglect to take items for rest, relaxation and recreation eg books, music, sports equipment, games, hobbies etc. and items for the children. Keep valuable items to a minimum and on your person. Unless you are a very keen photographer it's best to avoid large lenses and stick to simple technology but a good close-up facility will prove very useful for medical photos.
For your hosts
Find out if there are small items of equipment, books or drugs needed by the institution you are visiting which you could carry with you. Similarly, those already there may lack some small personal items which you could easily take. It is difficult to appreciate the frustration caused by the lack of some small item that is easily procured in the UK but impossible to obtain abroad. Enquire about such things early to allow for any delay in correspondence or in obtaining the item.
Organisations which specialise in supplying medical books, pharmaceuticals and medical and other items of equipment include TALC, IDA and Mission Supplies Ltd. Addresses are listed in Appendix 2