Friday, June 26, 2009

A difficult week

This week our kid, Mito, was taken ill. He vomited at school, and a pediatrician prescribed antibiotics. At night he was still not OK, and we took him to the hospital. They put him on a drip, for rehydration, and prescribed stronger antibiotics. After 2 days on the drip, the doctor at hospital suggested oral rehydration. We were back at the hospital in less than 24 hours, and this time lab tests revealed an amoeba infection. A further 2 days in hospital, and a visit to Manila later, he's back to OK, but it really was a difficult week for Laila and myself.

What really scared me, though, was the cost of medicines here. They are on the same level as i'm used to paying in Europe. The hospital provides free consultation and service, but no help at all with medicines. I spoke to a friend of mine, and he confirmed my thought - people visit the hospital only as a last resort, because they know that in all probability they won't be able to afford the medicines prescribed. His term was 'mona lisa hospital' - they look at you, and let you die.

There must be some way to help, at least the very poorest patients. Poverty here is different to the notion of poverty in other places, I guess. Many people live directly off their land. Local produce and fish is particularly cheap, and the value of labour is ridiculously low, even compared to, say, Metro Manila. The price of medicines therefore seems dispropotionately high. A 1 litre solution for IV (drip) is 120 pesos, that's about 2 euros, and normally lasts 8 hours - so 3 in a day - that's more than many people here earn in a week. One of the antibiotics we bought was over 1000 pesos. I am trying to set up a fund to help buy medicines, and if any reader would like to contribute, do please contact me. Even small amounts are welcome, and could very well save lives.