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Medical Care In Papua

14/04/2009

Have been feeling a little under the weather over the last few days, so having a day off yesterday I decided to do a bit of medical research. Always a dangerous thing to do for the medically un-educated but given the environment we’re in you kind of have to.

Not a Dr

Not a Dr

I started by using Wrong Diagnosis where you can build up a list of symptoms to narrow down what the problem might be. I have a decent headache with pain around the eye, in the cheeks, a droopy eyelid on the left and reduced vision on the left and slight ear ache. No matter what combination of symptoms I was putting in the most common things popping up were Brain Cancer/Tumour or Aneurysm which was a bit concerning. Decided to broaden my search a bit and use Goggle and thats when I started to get results for a sinus infection – I can cope with that!

Obviously not a good idea to fly with a sinus infection so let the guys know that I would take today off and asked the staff if they could take me to a doctor. Another co-pilot is currently resting up after coming off a scooter (second time I have had to do first aid on him after coming off a scooter, but this time was real scary) and the staff were going to be taking him in for a check-up. 

So today we went out to the Rumah Sakit Umum (General Hospital) which was an experience, dry blood trailed down the stairwell and the general appearance was pretty un-hygienic. The other co-pilot went to see a Doctor first in the hope of maybe having the stitches in his head, arm and foot removed but they wanted to keep them in a bit longer. As they were redressing the wounds the nurse was trying to pick the bloody scabs off! Lovely. They gave him some more meds and he is still restricted to his room because being outside too long there is too much risk of infection in the humidity (after the first dressing of the wounds he had developed a bit of infection).

Unfortunately for him we had to wait quite a while for the Doctor to see me. Eventually I got called up after the Nurse taking notes on the problem. The Doctor’s first instinct was to talk to me in Bahasa Indonesian which I thought was a bit odd given I’m a white boy (Its a bit telling really if they would rather not speak in English, aren’t pretty much all medical journals in English?). I did respond a bit in Indonesian but I’m still a bit limited in my vocabulary so started talking in English. However she did agree that it was most likely a sinus infection and started writing out a prescription for various meds.

So now I have about 5 days worth of Cefadroxil (broad-spectrum antibiotic), Methylprednisolone (adrenocortical steroid) and Mefenamic acid (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory). So obviously I used Google and Wikipedia to check it out and it does seem we actually have access to decent drugs in Papua. Its not all bad I tell ya!

Obviously if things don’t improve which I’m sure they will I might need to go to the International SOS clinic in Bali but despite the awful conditions of the Hospital and the Doctor’s loose command of English I think it’ll be ok.

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