“I inject you good, you give me soda?”

We received a few mosquito bites while in Bukoba. At first Matt and I were super vigilant about wearing bug spray and always sleeping underneath the mosquito net to avoid getting malaria. When we would hear that ominous buzzing, life would be put on hold as we desperately searched for the enemy in hopes of destroying it. But as time wore on, we became more confident in our anti-malaria pills and less anxious about getting bit.

One night I was lazy and didn’t pull down the net, and sure enough, received an unfriendly bite. By what, I don’t know. But this harmless bite quietly grew to a dime-sized circle and developed some pressure underneath the skin. We were hoping to leave on safari soon, and the last thing I needed was for it to grow out of control while we were in the middle of the Serengeti.

So we walked around Mwanza (a town on the other side of Lake Victoria) until we found a hospital. For $3 I became a new patient and they set up my file, complete with my weight, height, and blood pressure information. I was impressed with the facilities; they were clean and everything seemed to be sterile enough. After 1 ½ hours of waiting, I was called into the doctor’s office for a ten minute consultation ($.60). Although she couldn’t tell me what my bite was from, she prescribed an anti-histamine injection, some anti-histamine pills, and two bottles of cream ($3). I picked up the medicine as well as the various tools needed for the injection (all individually wrapped in plastic) at the pharmacy across the hall before walking to the nurse’s room.

Before injecting me in the back of my hand (which seemed strange to me), the young woman smiled as she asked, “I inject you good, you give me soda?” Her request caught me off guard and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and seriously considered whether or not I should buy her a soda! (For the record, I did not.).

All in all, the trip to the doctor cost me $6.60. Totally worth it for the medicine and the peace of mind. What was outrageously cheap for me would have been super expensive for many Tanzanians if they didn’t have national insurance. Oh, and the bite is slowly disappearing. Nothing to worry about; it was worth the unique experience.

One Comment


November 22nd, 2011

This is such a stark contrast to what we’re used to back in the US. A few weeks ago, I saw my doctor for about an hour – $128. He gave me a steroidal injection in my shoulder – $117. Two prescriptions for generic brand medications – $16 & $9. I could just say that’s how it is, but I’m lucky to have good health insurance. I’d be pissed if I didn’t.

On my first visit to the physical therapist last month, I inquired what the price of each session was. The therapist looked surprised and said, “That’s a good question. Let me find out.” You’re providing the care, how don’t you know?! Turned out to be $335 for a 1hr consultation and $77 per 15min of therapy. So happy to have good health insurance.

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