I’ve now come out of hospital after two nights. It turns out I have a form of bronchitis (trust me; an Englishman to pick up such an illness in a tropical climate), as well as a cyst in my voice box, which shall be removed next week.
Suffice to say, it’s no fun being ill, especially when one is so used to being active. Pamela has accompanied me while I have been stuck on a drip, unable to move my arm.
Nonetheless, the nurses and doctors at DIME medical centre in Tegucigalpa have been excellent. They’ve cured me of my ailments with first class professionalism and care, on call 24 hours, with military-like punctuality when providing medication. I’ve had gas masks, breakfast, lunch and dinner, x-rays and cameras stuck up my nose (one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve ever been put through; God knows what a colonoscopy feels like). The nurses never lost their patience, despite me ringing them every couple of hours to disconnect me from the drip so I could use the toilet (the drip fills your bladder. I’m sure you, the reader, will consider this too much information about my urine habits, but it wasn’t just the quantity of pees, but the length of them; I could have created reservoirs), as well as having to fix the drip half a dozen times because of my fidgeting. I’ve had many blood tests and blood pressure checks and it’s all been done with a sense of humour and a smile.
It’s private hospital, so you might well say that one should expect a great service when paying so much money. Through my wife’s job, I am lucky to have such great cover on my medical insurance. My current salary would never have covered it. The bill came to around £1500 ($2000). To say I’m privileged is an understatement, as I know full well that a great many people in Honduras would not be able to afford this, and alas, many millions of people across the world. That includes the US and maybe the UK in the future.
Therefore, and without wanting to be political, it makes me wonder how someone without medical cover does cope. Almost 70% of the Honduran population live in poverty. I very much doubt their access to medical insurance is great, especially amongst the 44.6% who live in extreme poverty (the highest in Central America, according to stats in the Honduran media). Everyone has access to the public medical network, but I’m told it doesn’t always have the facilities to treat people effectively, especially in regards to medication, even in the major cities, let alone rural areas. The media often brings to the surface the failings of the public social security (IHSS), which has been beaten like a piñata in recent years by the current administration and previous, both left and right. Scandals, corruption and robbery erodes it, and everyday folk go without.
But let me be clear, I’ve never used the public health system in Honduras; I don’t know accurate I am, nor do I want to discredit the staff who work in public hospitals and clinics and save lives with limited resources everyday on low pay. Just those in power should do better to make the public health system more effective.
Let me underline, I am a lucky man. I know it. Health is a billion pound business and the situation is what it is. I hate to be so apathetic, but the global powers that be seem to want to push towards with private healthcare, seeing it as a great expense to public finances. I grew up with the NHS in the UK, meaning I never paid a dime for medical consultancy nor medication; a lifesaver for someone with congential hypothyroidism. Even though I said I didn’t want to get political, the UK now has a government intent on dismantling it. That’s a road I don’t want to go down today.
I do want to thank the doctors and nurses at DIME, again, as well as my wife, who told me to go to hospital two weeks ago (there’s been a lot of “I told you so” comments). She’s been there at my bedside and she’s with me now I’ve come back home. I’ve a lot to be grateful for.