Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mistaken Identity and more

You people all look the same
While walking alone to the taxi station in Fianarantsoa, a Malagasy man yelled, “MIKE!” at me repeatedly. Since Mike is not my name and I’m not a tall blond guy, I didn’t respond. The guy then called me rude names and stuck up for not responding. Now I’m aware that sometimes it is difficult to identify people with similar features from a foreign facial type. That still doesn’t make it okay to yell at me for not responding to a name that isn’t mine and is of a person who looks absolutely nothing like me.

Pills, pills, pills
Something has to be said for Malagasy doctors and pharmacies. Beyond the fact that very few doctors in this country are approved to treat PCVs, its amazing that the vast majority of doctors in the countryside are highly uneducated. A lot of what nurses and doctors practice here is the equivalent to what would be taken care of at home in the US. Most high school students in the states have a better understanding of health and the human body than some of the doctors here. The most common solutions is prescribing tetracycline as a cure all. If a Malagasy person walks into a pharmacy with the name of a medicine, it is presumed that it was prescribed because the names of medicines are not something accessible to laypeople. There aren’t drug seekers other than foreigners.

While doctors visits remain free, the cost of any medicines is left for families to bear. Even with simple and cheap solutions available for many wounds and illnesses, its frustrating to see many issues go on for years. I recently heard of an ear infection that went on until a little girl became deaf. Instead of getting a few drops or pills to fix the issue, they waited until it abscessed. This is the same idea as the family next to me who let their child become so malnourished at age seven, the boy could no longer walk. He needed deworming and nutrition information for his mother. Instead, they waited years and he was near dead. Having learned the very basics of health and first aid, most Americans know when to go to the doctor. This is one of many reasons why health volunteers here have a lot to do.