So imagine the confidence with which I entered a local clinic seeking treatment for malaria. The sun had just gone down, and as we parked the car outside we saw no lights coming from within—clearly the power had gone out in town. Armed with the feeble flashlights on our cellphones we ducked beneath the ratty beaded curtains hanging in the doorway and entered the lobby. A voice told us we “were welcome” and so we sat down on the benches in what appeared in the dim light to be a waiting room. Several people came over to greet us and shake our hands and finally someone said that they were just going to get more petrol in order to start the generator. Yes, I was feeling pretty good about the kind of medical attention I was to receive!
The lights came on soon after, and to be honest, it might have been better to have been kept in the dark! The lights just showed how grubby a place it was! However, seeing a computer at the registration desk did give me some hope of respectability. The doctor ordered a malaria test and the nurse directed me to the lab (while her cellphone was to her ear)—outside, in the next door, up a dodgy flight of stairs, down a hallway where I was told to wait on a bench. I passed a filthy sink that wasn’t equipped with faucets, sat on the bench outside some rather smelly toilets and waited alone on the bench.
A lab tech came soon after and took me into the lab. I tried to block out most of the scene and just concentrated on where she was taking the needle from; she opened a new package, so I could (almost) ignore the rest of the surroundings as she went about her task. I had the results in about three minutes and went back through the maze to the doctor’s office where he wrote a prescription for malaria medication. The whole process probably took half an hour at the most.
Two days later, I determined that the meds the doctor had given me were only making me sicker so I returned to another clinic for a second opinion. This one is far more reputable, but it’s only open during the day, so we hadn’t been able to go there in the first place. A second doctor’s consultation, some glucose injections, some kind of rehydrating IV drip and a new prescription seemed to make the difference and I’m thankfully feeling much better now.
Say what you like about the waiting lists, the bureaucracy and even the occasional user fees associated with the Canadian Healthcare System, at least the generators are always fuelled up!