Antibiotics? Don’t those kill off all the good bacteria as well?

Arusha Hospital

Arusha Hospital

The most common phrase I received from people after visiting a hospital in Arusha and determining I have(had?) a parasite and being prescribed some antibiotics. The other question that was common as people notice Im not feeling well is: “Are you taking re-hydration salts?”.

My health trial began when we crossed the border into Kenya. I plodded along through rough days in Kenya and early part of Tanzania. Arusha is the mental halfway point if not the actual halfway by our route. The tour has a 3 day break where most riders go on a safari. I checked into a nice hotel and slept for 3 days, only emerging for my first experience with health care in Africa.

Summary of Visit

Cab Ride

Cashier

(Skipped Queue)

Doctor

Queue

Cashier

Lab

Queue

Lab Results

Queue

Doctor

Queue

Pharmacy Pricing

Queue

Cashier

Queue

Pharmacy

Stumble Back to Hotel and bed for 2 more days

The receptionist at the hotel pointed me toward a private hospital because he warned against going to a public hospital. It was an experience. Upon getting guided by a cabby to the right window, I prepaid to see a doctor. At this point not knowing the process I went to the exam room they named, likely ignoring a long queue of people waiting, and sat for 30 minutes waiting for the doctor. We talked as best we could and he prescribed a number of tests in the lab. I than went to the lab and learned I must pay at the cashier in advance, so I go back to wait in line for the cashier, who seems to be waiting for something but I don’t know quite what. Back to the lab and the tests.

Here is where a bit of trepidation begins as drawing blood in Africa raises some media induced nervousness as well as my own extreme dislike for needles. The lab guy was very helpful. Another wait on a bench outside the lab for test results.

I than am sent back to the doctor, this time I am informed of the queue, so I sit in another queue for a relatively small time as the doctor sees each patient. On average each person is in the physician’s office for 2 minutes. Once my turn arrives he tells me a diagnosis and starts writing a prescription. At this moment, police rush in with a small boy who was bleeding, very injured, and I would guess quite shocked to be staring at a muzunga as he is pushed through the door by cops. That ended the consultation.

I stood in line for the pharmacy now. Thinking I have figured this system out, I grab someone and make sure I don’t need to prepay for this and determine I am in the right line. This line is all about defense, at any opportunity people will jump ahead of you, As a woman in checkout line said to me in Nairobi “If you don’t say anything, nothing will happen”. So, I’m aggressively guarding my spot and telling queue jumpers to get to the back of the line. I finally get to the window, the pharmacist than hands me a bill and says I must pay the cashier, I plead with him to fill the prescription so I don’t have to get back in this same aggressive line once more but my tourist charm is having no effect, so back to the cashier and round two.

Eventually, I dizzily stumbled out of the clinic. Trudged down the road back to my hotel for all day sleep sessions with only breaks for food.

So much for that safari.

Tags: , , ,