Sunday, May 23, 2010

Experiences with Tanzanian Hospitals

I've contracted the latest in Tanzanian epidemics. No, not HIV, not malaria, not even dengue fever--I have conjunctivitis. Yep. I flew 10,000 miles and ended up with pink eye.

One of the kids we live with, Kenny, brought it home from school last Thursday. Unfortunately, he has a somewhat stilted concept of personal space. Tori, in retrospect the intelligent one, spent a lot of time running away from him and saying, "Kenny, no!" when he tried to touch her face. I didn't like the pouting that followed her unwillingness to play, so I played with him normally.

Big mistake.

My eyes are now shockingly red and oozing a lovely green goop. This prompted Tori to take me to the nearby dispensary, where a nurse (sans gloves, anything remotely resembling hand-sanitizer, or the usual accouterments accompanying the medical profession) gave me a once over and said, "You have conjunctivitis." She then handed me drugs and charged me 2,000 shillings (about $1.30) for eye-drops.

No doctors, no paperwork, no wait. No ID, no insurance, no prescription.

I would have complained about all of the above in the States. Here, however, I find I derive some comfort from the bureaucratic process--at least it makes everything seem legitimate. Not that the medicine isn't. The drops are working wonders (even if they cause an embarrassing proliferation of tears), but still. It just seemed sketchy.

Nurse Tori insists I use them every three hours, so I should be better soon, never fear, dear readers. Until then!


  1. I was so scared when I saw the title of this post in my google feed! Thank goodness it's just pink eye. But how could you see through all the goop to write this post. =) Glad you're okay.


  2. I feel your pain, Matt. I woke up one Christmas morning in Panajachel, Guatemala with the worst case of pink eye anyone had ever seen. Getting the eye drops was a snap -- just walked up to the pharmacy counter and asked. Hope you're feeling better! --Jessica

  3. Pink eye = poop particles in your eye. Gross. :P