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15 April 2019 / leggypeggy

Visiting a doctor in West Africa

schedule of fees

Schedule of fees. Ten thousand francs (10,000) is worth about 1 euro

Many of you have asked after Jason and his health. After a night on a drip in a rural hospital and plenty of medications, he’s back in good form. It’s a great relief to us all.

He confessed that he’d missed a couple of doses of his Doxycycline, a daily anti-malaria tablet. That’s never good, but it’s a reminder to all of us to be diligent about taking whatever meds we have been prescribed.

I once heard that regardless of whether a person is taking prophylactic (preventative) medication or not, about one in 10 people will get malaria anyway. Ugh.

So yesterday we had another malaria scare or two or three. Adam (our other leader/driver), Thijs and Dee were all feeling poorly and some of their symptoms pointed to malaria.

We arrived in Dalaba, in the Fouta Djalon region of Guinea, in the late afternoon. It has several clinics and a hospital. All three were taken by taxi to a clinic but the doctor was away (or something) and they ended up at the hospital.

malaria test

Malaria test

At this stage, it seems no one has malaria. but I thought I’d share an exchange between Dee and her brother-in-law. It gives you an idea about the differences between hospitals and medical practices in the West and West Africa.

Dee: Good thing is that I don’t have malaria. Test and advice all for around $25.

Brother-in-law: Dee, these tests have variable sensitivity and specificity. If I were you I would find a doctor and get him to request more appropriate blood tests that include microscopic examination of blood cells, we use the term thin and thick film examination. There should be a reliable laboratory service available somewhere.

clinic in Dalaba

Clinic

Dee: Thanks for your advice and I love your optimism re tests etc. The pic shows the room I was assessed in. Did I mention that there was no electricity as the generator didn’t get started until after 6pm and there was no water as the whole town has no water plus the fact that the ‘doctor’ who assessed me had completed three years of his studies and was waiting on money to complete the next three. So as you can gather things are a bit tricky regarding a doctor’s referral etc etc.

Brother-in-law: Wow, I can only begin to understand. The West takes so much for granted.

All photos are by Dee.

 

55 Comments

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  1. macalder02 / Apr 15 2019 7:27 am

    The greatest danger for those who visit Africa is in Malaria. Thank God that everyone is without news. that’s a great relief to continue the trip. The photos are eloquent. Greetings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 15 2019 7:29 am

      Thanks so much. We are all very lucky to have no malaria. We hope it stays that way.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Derrick / Apr 15 2019 7:29 am

    I had cerebral malaria and I was taking Doxy.
    I went for the same tests, mine came back negative, it wasn’t until I got home I was diagnosed with it
    I never knew how I got home, according to my passport I have never left Ghana, how I got past immigration beats me
    I don’t remember my flight home, I never even recognised Heathrow (and I worked there for 26 years)
    According to my wife I collapsed at home in the toilet, the medics said I was dead and it was only for their efforts I am still her
    I spent 3 weeks in IC, during that time I never knew anyone, my wife, my kids, where I was or what I was doing there
    I still can’t give blood, sometimes I have lapses of memory (it will get worse the older I get
    Don’t just reply on Doxy, use a bug spray as well (if the bugger don’t bite you, you should be safe, but the Doxy is there if they do bite you)
    I owe my doctor Dr Datta for my still being here, yes he is a foreign doctor but in my eyes he is the best doctor ever, he told me ‘It’s what we do’
    Stay safe in Africa and take that Doxy and use bug spray

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 15 2019 7:32 am

      Derrick, I remember the horrible close calls you had with malaria. Your advice is spot-on. I’m sitting here tonight wearing long pants and long sleeves and liberal doses of bug spray. You can’t be too careful. I know how lucky you were. Hoorah for Dr Datta!

      Like

      • Derrick / Apr 15 2019 7:52 am

        Cheers Peggy, Dr Datta still give me check ups even after all this time
        I asked him at the time ‘what do you say to someone that saved your life?’
        He just said ‘Thank you but chocolate is better ‘
        Ever since then I have taken him an Easter egg (and eggs for the nurses in the ward)
        I still insist Thank you isn’t enough

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Apr 15 2019 7:53 am

        When I come to the UK, I’ll bake Dr Datta a chocolate cake.

        Like

  3. Dorothy / Apr 15 2019 7:37 am

    There are worse things than malaria Peggy, sandfly fever is much worse , believe me I had both in Nigeria. Keep using the bug spray.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 15 2019 7:39 am

      Oh dear, Dorothy, so sorry you had to suffer through both. Ugh, ugh and ugh. I use lots of bug spray and wear long sleeves and long trousers.

      Like

  4. Sy S. / Apr 15 2019 7:58 am

    It is very good that people who travel get to read this posted blog… and as you say should not ignore any recommended shots, medications/drugs, bug sprays. I just can’t image all the nightmare people go through with Malaria (like Derrick’s post) and other diseases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 15 2019 8:01 am

      Malaria is such a killer. Anything we can do to prevent it is worthwhile.

      Like

  5. beetleypete / Apr 15 2019 8:12 am

    I took malaria tablets religiously, when I went to Africa. I didn’t get malaria, luckily, but the tablets made me feel quite unwell. I slept under mosquito nets too, even in ‘good’ hotels, and I could hear them buzzing around the netting all night! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 3:51 am

      Malaria tablets vary widely, as do the effects they have on people. Doxy works well for us. We’ve just stayed in a place in Guinea where there are no mosquitos. Amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Apr 15 2019 8:45 am

    I was fortunate enough to avoid it as well – malaria pills, bug spray, long sleeves and pants. I hope you all stay healthy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. CURIOUStotheMAX / Apr 15 2019 11:10 am

    Wowza . . have always wanted to visit Africa . . . until now. Mosquitoes lick their lips when they see me and when bitten I get a horrible allergic reaction that lasts for weeks and that’s in the USA. So keep traveling Peggy so I can live vicariously.

    (My father contracted Malaria in the Philippines during WWII. He had recurring bouts his whole life.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 3:54 am

      Africa is getting better at controlling mosquitos. Safer days will come. But as others have said, bug repellent, long sleeves, long pants and mosquito nets are great protection. Many people wear shorts and short sleeves into the evening. Leaves them open to bites.

      Like

  8. Alison and Don / Apr 15 2019 11:20 am

    That conversation does not surprise me at all. Also that really nothing has changed since I was in Africa in 1980 😦
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amanda / Apr 15 2019 11:27 am

    Gosh this sounds awful and tricky. I would be too paranoid to visit Africa especially after reading Derrick’s account. I hope you continue to escape this curse, Peggy. It really does make one realize how much we take for granted, and that we need to be vigilant in Cape York.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 3:56 am

      Derrick’s case was extreme and he is lucky to be alive. He got the worst kind of malaria. Usually when caught early, the common malaria can be treated quite effectively.

      Like

  10. SuperDuque / Apr 15 2019 11:31 am

    Daktari

    Liked by 1 person

  11. gerard oosterman / Apr 15 2019 1:20 pm

    You can get lots of things everywhere now. We will all be lucky to get out alive. Sure, many African countries have shocking medical problems but they do have something we seem to be lacking and that is thriving communities and spirituality. It is called ‘life.’
    We are pumped up with medications and our lives are filled with consumables, but many also suffer aching loneliness and spiritual dehydration.
    It seems we can’t have it all. . .

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 3:59 am

      You’re right Gerard. All over the world, mosquitos and bugs carry diseases we want to avoid. And as you said, Africa is full of life. I do miss the drums I heard throughout Africa in the 1970s. Mobile phones have taken their place.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Apr 15 2019 2:43 pm

    So sorry about the illnesses. I just read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible for the third time. We in the west in our “civilized” communities take so much for granted. Third world countries do the best they can with their resources. We should never look down on them but be respectful and grateful for their contributions. I hope everyone gets healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 4:00 am

      Excellent points Sharon. We take a lot for granted and fail to honour how well Africa copes in spite of all her challenges.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Gilda Baxter / Apr 15 2019 8:09 pm

    I would love to visit Africa in spite of the risks. But will be sure to take medication and cover up well. The experiences ypu are having are priceless. But I hope you will not need to visit a hospital there too often. ..or a hospital anywhere actually 🙂 Stay safe

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 4:01 am

      Africa gets in your blood, and I don’t mean by mosquitos. I love visiting here.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. lexklein / Apr 15 2019 10:47 pm

    I’m one of those don’t-overmedicate types, but I sure took my Doxy in every part of Africa! Our guide in Tanzania ended up with malaria at the end of our trip, and he was quite ill (he did recover), and that introduction to the disease made me extra vigilant on future trips, especially in West Africa. Fingers crossed for all of you and your local friends for the rest of the trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 4:03 am

      People who live long-term in Africa usually don’t take malaria prophylactics, because over time those have their own kind of risks. Tourists, however, should be vigilant.

      Liked by 2 people

      • lexklein / Apr 18 2019 7:06 am

        Oh, for sure. When my daughter lived and worked in Ghana, there were many questions about using Malarone and other meds over the longer-term. I’ve never gone anywhere there for more than 2-3 weeks, so I took it. Stay healthy! (How long are you gone overall?)

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 20 2019 7:50 am

        We’re away just over 10 weeks this time.Our first long trip in Africa was 12 months.

        Like

  15. The Year I Touched My Toes / Apr 15 2019 11:33 pm

    Yes Africa is not a good place to get sick. We waited three days for a doctor to come in a clinic we were “waiting” at. Don’t forget your tablets. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 4:04 am

      I set the alarm on my phone every night to remind me to take my tablet as soon as I wake up.

      Like

      • The Year I Touched My Toes / Apr 18 2019 7:59 am

        Good strategy, so phone charging is not a problem then. You’ve got it covered.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 20 2019 7:49 am

        The power went out about 30 minutes ago, but the phone is mostly charged. We carry a battery pack.

        Like

  16. derrickjknight / Apr 16 2019 2:02 am

    Much relief. Keep well

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Phil Huston / Apr 16 2019 2:21 am

    YOu know I’m glad you’re still alive but doesn’t this globetrotting thing sometimes feel like Russian Roulette? Like the old cowboys wanting to die with their boots on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 4:05 am

      Not taking malaria prophylactics is like Russian Roulette. Everything else is just my other normal.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Lisa Dorenfest / Apr 16 2019 10:43 am

    Love this and totally get it (I have been the ‘Dee’ in a few conversations home). Glad to know that at this stage no one has malaria and I hope it remains that way. Ahoy from Brazil

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Zambian Lady / Apr 17 2019 4:16 am

    Good to hear that Poor John and the others are doing much better. I hope you also have treated mosquito nets. You can’t take enough precaution with malaria. I can’t count the number of times I had malaria growing up, with celebral malaria being the worst. On top of that, chloroquine (med used at the time) would help along with itchy hands and feet and a healthy dose of terrifying nightmares. You may want to get tested when you return home to make sure that you don’t have dormant infection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 4:08 am

      I can hardly imagine what it must have been like for you growing up. Malaria was a terrible and relentless problem. Same goes for so many children in Africa now. We’ll get tested for lots of things when we get home.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Curt Mekemson / Apr 17 2019 8:42 am

    Doesn’t sound like much has changed in the last 50 years, Peggy. Peace Corps had its own doctors. One lived next door to me. But when I really got sick, he worked his way through his medicine cabinet without luck. When he was out of town, I checked with a doctor from India as my temp went over 104. He had me well on my way to recovery the next day. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 18 2019 4:10 am

      A couple of days ago, a fellow passenger talked about an illness he had that couldn’t be diagnosed/fixed. An Indian doctor gave him something that worked in three hours. Apparently it’s something too strong to be sold in the West. We have so much to learn.

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / Apr 20 2019 4:04 am

        Right you are Peggy. What Dr. Swami gave me (and yes that was his name) tasted delightful.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Chris Riley / Apr 17 2019 8:55 am

    Africa wasn’t particularly on my list before reading this. It’s definitely not on my list now for sure. I’ll continue to enjoy my travels there through your eyes though Peggy. Keep safe and well.xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  22. America On Coffee / Apr 17 2019 11:01 pm

    Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Invisibly Me / Apr 19 2019 2:03 am

    A stark warning and reminder, too. I’m glad Jason is managing better. Quite eye-opening to consider the way things are in different parts of the world when it comes to healthcare..xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 20 2019 7:46 am

      Health care varies widely all over the world. We’re lucky if we have good care.

      Liked by 1 person

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