Monday, July 13, 2009

H1N1, Augmentin, Arcoxia and AIDS - Stories from the trenches!

I was out of blogging action for 8 days. The longest break I thought, for my STILL short life in blogosphere. Juggling various tasks and having tonsillitis forced me out. I went to a Medical Centre for outpatient treatment. I liked them for their speed and professionalism but with a twist this time around. There is the H1N1 pandemic, a revamped hospital and off course new pricing!

The security personnel had face masks on. Nurses were on sentry work, dutifully asking all and sundry at the entrance, whether they have fever! My early face-off with the masked and uniformed were dentists and dental assistants in my primary school and maybe Zorro (my favourite TV show then) if what he had on was considered a uniform. I was feeling paranoia. My temperature and BP were taken in a cubicle. It was 37 degree Celsius - go to the green zone and wait for my name to be called. I obeyed.

I saw the worried look on the doctor's face once seated in his consultation room. He was checking the preliminary report from the triage. "Are you having fever?" he asked. "No" was my answer. "Did you go overseas lately" - "No" and "Did you meet with foreign visitors" - "No". He reached out to grab my arm gently to feel for the supposedly heat emanating from my body. He gave me a puzzled look. "You are running a temperature of 39 degree Celsius!?" I said "No, it was 37."

He rang for the nurse. She came in. Yes it was 37, she confirmed. No apology. I thought the doctor was going to tick the nurse off. The doctor should but did not maybe out of courtesy and good practice it will be done in private later.

A mild shock awaited me at the cashier. My bill was RM173. Augmentin - 10 tabs , Difflam liquid for gargling, 2 strips of Panadol and 6 tabs Arcoxia. Usually with Augmentin and other ancillaries my bill will max out at RM135.00. Medical treatment is getting more and more expensive. In some Third World countries many cannot afford to fall sick!

Needless to say this amplifies the point that medical care must be made available to all. Otherwise the "United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 3 - Everyone has a right to life and Article 25 - Everyone has the right to ... medical care and necessary social services...." means nothing at all. Malaysians are fortunate to have their companies providing at least GP treatment and the senior level execs will get better packages. But I am not sure what the future holds.

A friend of mine in Thailand was HIV positive in the late 90's that later developed into full-blown AIDS. I visited her a few times when I passed by Chiangmai. When I saw her in 2001 she was as thin as a pole biding her time before leaving this world. At that time a cocktail of drugs to fight AIDS costs USD10,000 a year. She simply could not afford the patented drugs.

The then PM Thaksin came out with Baht 30 (RM3) medical scheme for Thais. At that time the full effects of WTO have not reached many countries as yet and Indian pharmaceutical companies under certain loopholes were able to produce generics at just USD350 for a year's treatment. She got the necessary antiretriviral drugs. She is still alive today! The power of populist policies positively speaking.


Selba said...

RM 173, that's a lot! Can you do medical reimbursement in your office?

Hope that you are feeling better :)

Big Boys Oven said...

hey Chin, hope you are getting better now, recover fast yeah! Great to hear that your friend is still surving and fighting for a better health.
I am sad too, I wish there is a cure for cancer, yet another deadly thing. I too lost my dear aunt to cancer, she was so skinny and frail before she left. :(

worldwindows said...

Selba... Fortunately I am have my own business. Paid from there. OK alreadi.

BBO... Yes, I wish a cure for all ailments and all to be able to afford it. I think with the exception that of 'old age'.