Friday, July 11, 2008

Malaria Musings

Last Thursday I had scanty malaria, which means only a few of my blood cells were affected. I must have forgotten to take my pills. Luckily I caught it early, and I was able to recover in a day thanks to the health center at Kyetume CBHC.

I thought I might have malaria when my head was hurting and I felt stiffness in my joints. Later on I felt feverish, so I went to get tested.

I was amazed by how easy it was to get tested and treated at the health center. All I had to do was walk in, get my finger pricked, see the doctor, and pick up my prescription. I was in and out in only 30 minutes. I've never had any medical treatment taken care of that fast, and I didn't have to pay because the Ugandan government provides free malaria treatment pills for all the health centers in the country. Maybe this was because CBHC doesn't have as many clients as the doctor's offices and hospitals I usually go to.

Still, I think it is interesting that I was treated faster in Uganda than I ever have been in the US.
When one of my co-workers went to UK, he realized that he had contracted malaria in Africa because he could feel the symptoms shortly after arriving in Europe. When he went to get treatment for it, he was asked if he had insurance. He did not, so he was denied treatment at that particular medical center. Then he went to a pharmacy and asked for the drugs he knew he needed, but at first they wouldn't give it to him because he didn't have a prescription. Luckily he was persistent enough with the pharmacy employees, so he finally recieved treatment.

When people compare the "developed" world with the "developing" world, "developing" regions like Africa are often assumed to have substandard health care systems, and these assumptions are often well founded. However, details like how Uganda deals with its malaria problem compared to even "developed" countries are hardly discussed in the mainstream media.

I believe that light should be shed upon areas where Africa needs to improve, but we should not forget to acknowledge ways that nations like Uganda are making progress. Perhaps this will help dispell the idea that there is only gloom and doom in store for the continent.


Lucy (Y) said...

Hi Saumya -
Glad that your malaria experience was so "scanty" - and also the basis for some really interesting observations. Did you get to see Michael Moore's film Sicko re health care (actually lack of health care) in the US? Truly outrageous in the richest country in the world! Great to hear that Uganda provides free malaria treatment at its health centers. Not only is that so humane, but also probably costs less in the long run - a lesson that we would do well to learn in the US. Hope you are feeling much better! Take care, Lucy

Sundaram said...

Hi Saumya,

It's great to read about your internship in Uganda and your close encounter with Malaria or was it something else?
Keep blogging!


Saumya said...

It was definitely malaria. :)

Anonymous said...

Scary!!! I'm glad it turned out okay.

And you do pose some food for thought. Why did we develop a health care system that denies care to people? How did that happen and what were the reasons behind it? IS there anything we can do about. Definitely good food for thought, Saumya.

P.S.: I'm off to vacation for two weeks so even if you get back, I won't see you until the 15th.


Josue said...

some time ago I read in a magazine called cancer, about this disease called malaria, which almost did not know anything, I think it is good that these places do campaigns to combat