“We blame society, but we are society.”
Confidence, when in the hands of an uneducated health professional can be one of the most harmful tools. I’m thoroughly unimpressed with the medial system here in Nepal, not because of its lack of resources or unsanitary conditions (though all of that is pretty off-putting as well), but rather I am offset by the confidence that has appeared in multiple health professionals who turned out to be wrong.
When we arrived to Pokhara we went straight to a pharmacist who analyses stool samples in order to figure out exactly what was eating at Kevin’s insides. After the analysis he told us, without a doubt, that Kevin had anaerobic dysentery (caused by a protozoa) and handed him the antiobiotics that were sure to cure him. The only thing the pharmacist saw in the stool sample was mucus and pus cells (confirming something was going on, but not telling us what), yet he was completely confident that he knew the exact problem. Of course, it sounded a lot more convincing before we talked to others in town and realized that every single person who walks into that clinic gets the exact same diagnosis.
I went straight home and did some research. The pharmacist had told us that the drug he gave Kevin was not a broad spectrum antibiotic, but a light drug, while in fact it is indeed a very strong antibiotic. It wasn’t necessarily the fact that he was wrong which prickled my skin so much, but rather the force of confidence he used which implied there was no chance for error, when, obviously he was indeed wrong. Still, we tried it out, only to confirm our belief that it didn’t cure a thing.
So then we went to a doctor, or rather he came to us. We saw him treating someone who lived upstairs from us and called him down to have a look at Kevin as well. After two minutes he declared, with complete confidence, that Kevin actually has a bacterial infection (not a protozoa) and that the drugs he had been taking were not antibiotics (remember, these were the pills which I had confirmed to be strong broad spectrum antibiotics). Without doing a single test, he then went on, with the same high level of confidence, to tell us that a Protozoa can never cause a fever nor a high pus count, and told us that pharmisits don’t know anything. True enough, they don’t, but neither does he. I quickly went online and found that malaria is a protazoa, and as we all know one of the main symptoms is, you guessed it, a fever. And yes. They do also cause a pus count.
And with that second confirmation of his absolute confidence proven wrong, all my respect for him went out the window. It’s not the fact that he is wrong, it’s the fact that he declares, after a two minute visit, that he knows exactly what is affecting Kevin and that, in his words, “the magic of this medicine will cure everything and you will never have stomach problems again.” Right. How about we take a page out of western medicine and actually take some tests before randomly assigning illnesses and cures depending on our voodoo of the day.
To add insult to injury, he then charged us eighty dollars for a two minute visit and medicine that costs fifty cents. Keep in mind that this is in a country where a medical visit is usually free, a stool sample costs less than two dollars, and a weeks worth of antibiotics is never more than a dollar or two. Eighty dollars is quite a lot of money to pay for an overly confident doctor who obviously needs to check his facts, take some actually tests, or simply learn how to say “I don’t know.”
Needless to say I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated because Kevin sickness has held us up from doing anything we wanted to in Nepal, and I’m frustrated that the people who proudly call themselves doctors don’t have the humility to say I don’t know, and instead randomly diagnosis and prescribe another antibiotic. And you know what the kicker is? His last antiobiotic, the third one we have tried (while simaltaniousky killing Kevin’s gut), didn’t work either.
*Alright, I guess you should keep in mind that I wasn’t in the best mood when I wrote this, nor does it describe every health professional here (only every one we have met).