Friday, July 10, 2009

Medical services - Botswanan style?

So I've had a stiff neck for over 3 weeks, making my nights quite uncomfortable - not moving my neck much during the night seems to stiffen it up. Tried yoga, did not really work - at the end I felt my head was ready to part from my body; then a massage - the next night it seemed to freeze up completely, so today I went to see a doc.

Did not want to ask my colleagues, less than 3 weeks into the job, so picked one from an embassy website of doctors approved for that country's immigration policy, and one who was not too far from my home.

Found the surgery, a little house in the back garden of a larger house. The reception was presided over by Mma Ramotswe herself; a large lady with a ball of hair pinned on top of her head (Botswanan ladies seem to be prone to wigs, hair extensions and hair pieces - at times it can be rather disconcerting).

She asked me if I had come for a medical examination; I confirmed assuming I would need to be examined before any treatment was given (I suspected she meant a deeper medical examination). She proceded to push over to me a medical examination form for the Civil Aviation Authority..... I suggested that was not what I needed.

Waited for a while; an elderly female doctor (?) had slipped into one of the consulting rooms, but nothing happened. Then a very elderly male doctor went into the other room, and I was ushered in the second after he had disappeared through the door. Felt a bit bad about not even giving him time to sit down.

He did, I told him my symptoms, he started writing a prescription while I was still talking. Meantime I had time to survey the consulting room; akin to British NHS ca 1950.  I had been worried a bit about taking off my shirt, and having to explain the scars across my chest (not a very common condition here), but seeing he did not lift himself out of his seat, nor ask me to move my head about or do anything, there was no great need.  Not totally convinced about the quality of this interaction....

Then, in the waiting room, I was told to wait. The receptionist shuffled round a bit, went into an open cupboard beside the front door full of medicines, dug out two large bottles, disappeared into a back room, and a short while later re-appeared with two neatly labelled plastic bags with the stuff I had been prescribed. Still trying to find the name of one of those on the internet...

but I did get him to refer me for an xray. Addresses are funny in Botswana. People tend not to use them, but give you general driving directions, waving their hands in the air, and houses have plot numbers which seem to be fairly randomly allocated....luckily the referral form had a general map of the place on the back, and I only had to ask once.

There I did have to take off my shirt, but no questions were asked. 5 x-rays later, including one holding two full 10-litre containers in my hand, and an excruciating one of lying on the table (that's when I worried about the following night) I was done. Result due tomorrow.

It's interesting sussing out different health services. This one also seems to give the reports direct to the patients (though the next day, not on the spot as the Lithuanian service).  Is it only the UK service that 'protects' patients from the knowledge of their own health condition?


Nitrile Gloves said...

Medical services should be improving their quality. If the people are concerned the services and health status will also gradually improve someday.