Saturday, January 28, 2006

Health woes continue

I have conjunctivitis again! and this time, Daniel does too. So we’re both looking rather puffy eyed until our course of antibiotic eye drops does its job. I had to purchase a bottle from the chemist and it cost $5 (the Australian Embassy doctor charges $20 for an Australian equivalent). I felt this was a lot considering most Timorese earn less than $1 a day. Given the cost, it doesn’t surprise me that so many children walk around with untreated conjunctivitis and therefore why it’s so widespread here. No prescriptions exist in Timor so all medications can be bought over the counter. Most of the drugs originate in Indonesia.

I have also strained the ligaments in my right foot just below my anklebone. Most of the time I don’t notice it, but at least a couple of times a day when my foot is in a certain position, I can feel it and it really hurts. Not much can be done for it other than to massage it.

Very few people in Timor know the proper medical terms for diseases, illnesses and the like. This also applies to plants (eg frangipani (its botanical name) is known here as St Antony). As Timor is overwhelmingly a premodern society, modern scientific rational education is all but non-existent. For example, despite my saying the word “konjuntivite” and writing it on a piece of paper to show the woman in the chemist, she had no idea what that was. I then had to think of the vernacular word for it, which is “matan mean” (eyes red). Although this is similar to our vernacular word “pink eye”, most people would also know its medical name, but not in Timor.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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