Dr Joana Ramos da Rocha has been doing the same three-day round trip to four islands off the north east coast of Brazil, every month, for the last 43 years!
The agile pensioner sets up her clinic at local schools and sees more than 300 patients during her visits.
Some of the islands are so remote that residents must climb up trees to receive a mobile phone signal and only have electricity for four hours a day.
In many of the villages, horse and cart are still a regular mode of transport.
Without this energetic medical doctor, the isolated islanders would fail to receive adequate medical care.
Dr Rocha said:
“Age is no barrier for those who are willing to work, even if the work requires a lot of physical effort and is risky. “I love the challenge and I’m never afraid when I travel. “Since I started, quite a few doctors have come and gone. They say it’s too hard, because it also involves travelling to the other islands in canoes. “Once they’ve experienced a bit of sea sickness they refuse to come back.”
Dr Rocha, who trained as an obstetrician and still practises at three hospitals on the mainland, is godmother to hundreds of children delivered with her help.
She also acts as a counsellor, and some locals call her the ‘Patron Saint’ of the island communities.
Every month the tireless mother of one packs her doctors bag with basic medical essentials including a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, several specimen bottles and packets of painkillers.
Caters News Agency