27.03.2013 - 27.03.2013
Earlier in the week I had a running nose, felt very tired, and a bit weak. On Wednesday I felt too tired to go to work so I slept in the morning before meeting Alice from WUSC, Sameer, Cynthia and Kaitlin for lunch. Alice immediately insisted I go to a hospital to get tested for malaria. Though I had been reading on the internet and I didn't have many of the symptoms (fever, vomiting, chills, nausea), Alice said that symptoms can vary between different people.
So Alice drove me to the nearest reputable hospital, which is about a 5 minute walk from where I live, the Blantyre Adventist Hospital. I actually walk through it everyday on my way to work. It has the slogan "We care, God heals".
Now I am fairly paranoid about contracting any diseases here and I think most people worry about getting HIV from needles. Getting tested for malaria involves drawing blood. In Malawi there are public hospitals and private hospitals. Apparently the Blantyre Adventist Hospitals is one of two private hospitals in Blantyre and one of the best in the country. From what I have heard the public hospitals are more crowded, often short of necessary supplies, and not always clean. Due to either the cost of private hospitals, or the wait time and sometimes lack of service in public hospitals a significant number of Malawians try to self diagnose and treat their illnesses.
I didn't take any pictures inside because I just wanted to curl into a ball and sleep (which I did and people waiting around me looked at me funny), and it seemed a bit weird to take pictures inside. But it didn't seem too different than a Canadian hospital except for being smaller, having dated and less comfortable furniture, dimmer lighting, and being more confusing.
There was a sort of process map like thing outlining how a visit goes high up on the wall. This how my visit went:
1. Go to one of three counters (they're for different things), tell the receptionist what you want and fill in a little form. The receptionist doesn't know how much things cost. Get a number and wait for them to call it.
2. When they call your number you go to a little counter to pay upfront (1100 MWK / 2.97 CAD for doctor consultation) and then you sit in a smaller area closer to the doctor's offices
3. A nurse will call your number or name to take your weight, blood pressure, and temperature
4. Wait in the smaller area until a doctor calls your number or name
5. In my case the doctor asked me what was wrong, and I pretty much said I was here for a malaria test so he filled out a little form for lab tests. He brought the form to a women who is processing payments.
6. Woman processing payments calls your name and you pay (4600 MWK / 12.43 CAD for drawing blood for malaria test). She didn't have exact change so she made a note that she owed me 100 MWK / 0.27 CAD. I didn't follow up for it.
My lab test form and payment receipt
7. I was supposed to take my completed lab test form to the laboratory but I had to ask someone where to go. Once I found the lab a person drew my blood told me the test would take 10- 15 minutes to complete. I am quite sure he used a new needle from a new plastic wrap. I did a bit of paranoid Googling later and it seems unlikely I would contract diseases from getting my blood drawn. Being a rare foreigner he asked me questions about myself and seemed interested in going to study in Canada and wanted my email. I told him my employer was very strict and didn't let me give out my email. I did direct him to a few websites though.
8. Doctor calls me in to go over the results
Whole thing took about three hours. It was a bit confusing as there wasn't really clear direction of what was happening or what to expect...though it might have been I was too tired to read the process map on the wall.
In the end I didn't have malaria, hooray! I walked back to the lodge and after 16 hours of sleeping I felt quite a bit better.
- More people asked if I was Korean or Japanese. I don't really know why people think this. Maybe they have access to Japanese / Korean dramas, music, cartoons?
- I was in a burger shop and I noticed they had a "macon and cheese" burger. What is macon? It is sheep prepared like bacon!