What's the health system like in your country?

Discussion in 'Z Lounge [off topic]' started by Hope2012, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Hope2012

    Hope2012 Gold Member

    Posting this here as I accidentally hijacked another thread about minimum wage in USA

    Just curious, how fair, successful and efficient is the healthcare in your country?
    Has it helped you a lot or do you worry about health bills?
    What would you change about it?
    Zachary ojendo and KirstenShute like this.
  2. Hope2012

    Hope2012 Gold Member

    I'm from England
    I'm now just thinking now how poor I'd be if it wasn't for the NHS (National health Sysyem)
    I've never paid a (direct) penny for healthcare, its all from taxes and I don't know what I'd have done without it.
    So that's something I've learnt from this site.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
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  3. KirstenShute

    KirstenShute Gold Member

    In Canada there's health care (called Medicare in Quebec) for citizens and permanent residents. It covers hospital and doctor's visits, though not all associated costs. For instance, ambulance rides cost money, as do casts for broken bones (a neighbour of mine with a broken ankle spilled something on the cast; it was ruined and she had to pay for a new one). In general, our health professionals provide good service, though in cities like Montreal hospital wait times can be long.

    Dental care is another story, since there's no national plan. If you're not in a job where your workplace includes a dental plan (my situation right now), you have to either pay for appointments yourself or buy your own insurance, which is expensive. At my last place of study I had a dental plan that covered 75% of costs, up to a certain amount a year. I was lucky then, because one of my fillings broke and I had to get it replaced.

    I liked your story in the other thread about a French doctor giving you a free bottle of wine - it made me smile!
    Paul Meltus and Hope2012 like this.
  4. Landei

    Landei Silver Member

    Here in Germany people like to complain a lot, as it is expensive, suffers from more and more benefit cuts, and sometimes it's hard to get an appointment (e.g. we haven't enough doctors), but over all the health system isn't too bad. One problem is that we have two kinds of health insurance: Controlled by government, and private. If you have private health insurance (not everybody can join, you need either a high income or must be an entrepreneur), it can be quite cheap (even with more coverage than in the government-controlled system), but if you get children, lose your job, or simply get older, it can get very expensive. And as most things in Germany, health insurance is a complicated, bureaucratic matter.
  5. Denise

    Denise Gold Member

    Japan has an excellent national insurance (for people who don't work in a large company) or social insurance (paid by your company) system. We can walk in to a general practitioner or specialist without an appointment. Hospitals are harder to get into and there is often a waiting list. Some things I don't like are that the doctor will give you three days' worth of medicine and tell you to come back to make sure it is working before giving you a large prescription, and dentists do a tiny bit of work and it takes several weeks to finish any dental job. Cheap, though. I like that if you are hospitalized they keep you long enough that you can walk out and take the train home.
    Paul Meltus likes this.
  6. Joan

    Joan Forum Member

    The worst thing about the private insurance is that you can't get out of it as you get older. You're stuck with the high rates. Which is why I would never get that kind of insurance. (It is also quite unfair because people with private insurance get appointments first, as the doctors earn more by treating them.)
  7. Boniface

    Boniface Afrikan

    I havent seen anyone here from Africa giving an answer but in Kenya the healthcare system makes me mad.Lots of aid come in from countries in the West
    and yet we have hospitals that are broken and getting proper care is a long shot.My dad was sick and they misdiagnosed him and we lost him yet later a private doctor said that he was simply suffering from a blockage in his intestines.We sold his land and lots of assets to have him treated,we raised close to 800 000 kshs (approximately 9 000 $) yet we lost him after all that.Hopefully we will see the light in the near future especially with the new generation of young people coming up.I am envious when i hear people had surgery to remove cataracts in Western countries.Because of reading i know its simple but here lots of men and women have to walk around accepting blindness because of the expensive services to do such.
  8. KirstenShute

    KirstenShute Gold Member

    Hello Boniface,
    I'm very sorry about your father. The healthcare system in many places could be more accessible and better funded. My condolences to you and your family.

    About eye surgery: an older friend of my father's had cataracts removed. It's not perfect - he can hardly read anymore - but it means he can see. It doesn't seem fair that it's so hard to get in Kenya. In Canada, some people even have eye surgery just to correct being short-sighted! (It costs more than $1,000, though, whereas my last eye test + glasses set me back about $250.)
  9. K M

    K M Gold Member

    I agree Kirsten, I've worn glasses since I was 12, and wouldn't think of getting eye surgery just to fix my short sightedness. It's too expensive, plus I'm not fully convinced it works 100% for all time. I don't even want to pay for contact lenses! I just get new glasses once every four or five years, when things start to seem a little blurry. Besides, even if I could afford lenses/surgery, why would I spend that extra when I could use the money on something else, something that isn't just about cosmetics?

    I have a question about the pharmacies I regularly see seeking loans on Zidisha - of course, the idea of helping pharmacies expand and offer more medicines to people sounds good, but I wonder about the training of those who work at some of them, and about the care taken in dispensing the correct medicine for the true condition of a customer. For example - this loan currently funding - the borrower seems to have studied as an actuary, not a pharmacist, and from the photo, he's selling a lot of Bactox - a penicillin drug, which, when I looked it up, seems only effective at a few specific treatments, and is implicated in the emergence of drug-resistant forms of bacteria, particularly staph - and, seems likely to be sold to patients with "respiratory diseases" - apparently it can be effective against pneumonia, (which of course is serious in itself and I wouldn't want to prevent people from curing it,) but I worry that people with tuberculosis might think that in taking it they are doing themselves good, which would not be the case. (It has to be combined with other drugs to treat some strains of TB effectively.)

    Now, I respect that this borrower is trying to do the right thing, but I worry about his lack of training, and about a lack of proper diagnosis for his customers. I worry about the implications of supporting his loan. I want to help sick people get better access to the treatments they need, but I don't want to fund a project where sick people might pay for something that won't do them any good, and might cause them to get worse or make other people ill.

    So my question is this - how common is it, @Boniface or others who know, for people in Africa to just go to any pharmacy/chemists when they're feeling bad, and how much research do they do into what they are going to be taking? How difficult is it to find a trained pharmacist? Does the government try to regulate who runs pharmacies? Will a trained pharmacist ask for a prescription from a doctor, and if so, how hard is it to get a prescription? How, as a lender, do you think I can help the situation?
  10. Boniface

    Boniface Afrikan

    @KM pharmacies are very many here and because of government laxity anyone can own one.Its a sad fact but people in this third world country are used to that.They need cheap drugs and so they get cheap drugs offered by mostly 'unprofessional' owners of chemists and pharmacies. Kenya has a long way to go.Personally whenever i get a doctors prescription i have to google the name of the drug in order to see wether it does what he said it would do. I have had instances where my wife was once prescribed a drug that could have very easily caused her to abort the one month baby she had in her womb.I was so mad but that was the government hospital and that drug was banned in America but somehow available here in a government hospital.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  11. Roy

    Roy Gold Member

    The Finnish System, like the social security system as a whole is excellent. This maternity box, which is written about in the attached link is a prime example of how the state gives a broad range of support.
  12. Boniface

    Boniface Afrikan

    @Roy that makes me envious.Wow! We can only hope that Kenya and the whole of Africa gets a selfless crop of leaders that can transform such sectors as health.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
    Hope2012 likes this.
  13. K M

    K M Gold Member

    Thanks for the information. I was aware that in Kenya and in many other parts of the world drugs that are not considered quite up to par in America/Canada/Europe are sold, but it is shocking that a government doctor would prescribe a drug that could cause such known harm. Is it the case that privately-practicing doctors are generally seen as more reliable? (Although I would think they are also a lot more expensive.)

    A fun story about medicine in the US - one time while on a trip in the USA a member of my family became ill we think after accidentally drinking untreated river water (bronchitis? pneumonia? I'm afraid I can't remember. Something was affecting the lungs.) In Canada, we tend to tell ourselves horror stories about how expensive medical treatment is in the US (especially if you're a foreigner) so we were worried about getting a giant bill when we went to the hospital. The doctor there knew exactly what we were thinking though, and made a point of only charging minimally. (for the medicine, I think, rather then for his time and diagnostics. I was pretty young and not paying a lot of attention.) It was a good experience. Except for the sick part, of course.

    As an aside - you might think that all publicly available water in the US is safe to drink, but as a repeat car-camp visitor, let me tell 'ya, you got to be careful.
  14. Boniface

    Boniface Afrikan

    @K M as for people opening chemists and pharmacies left right and center all over its just a result of a broken down system in which those in government let the people do what they want and interfere very little,even with regulation,unless its to make some money from the bribe someone is pushed to give in order to legitimize the business.Sadly too many people in Africa walk into the chemists assuming that the chemist will diagnose and treat their ailment rather than the professional doctor who is very expensive and who may not necessarily solve their problems.I have a shop and i sell some over-the-counter painkillers and you wouldnt believe the amount of the painkillers the local villagers take as a remedy for almost each and every ailment they suffer from. Ignorance is prevalent and sometimes they come in and ask me what i think they should take for their "malaria" to which i always tell them you have to get tested to see wether its malaria you're suffering from,then you should see a doctor for treatment of the same.They tend to refuse this advice and want quick and cheap fixes. I had a neighbor who had a small chemist in the room next to my shop once and a baby died in his hands,i think the child had malaria,but the inebriated,untrained chemist stuck a syringe in her arm and tried to apply a drip consisting of regular supermarket glucose and regular water.The baby died and he called me.I could only confirm by the pulse that the baby had died.(he continued operating although with the little knowledge that i have about medication i dont think it is in order to put someone on a drip without testing them let alone injecting supermarket glucose straight into their veins).Its a sad situation but personally i have lost faith in our health system.
    As for your question about private doctors,many good doctors here work for government but because of theft in government hospitals the same drugs find their way into the privately owned chemists outside the government hospital.Those chemists are uisually owned by the same doctors who work in the government hospital.So it is common to meet a doctor in government hospital prescribing to you a drug which he will say is only found at a certain chemist or pharmacy,....i.e his chemist. Its especially hard on the poor who place a lot of trust in the "educated" doctors. I suffer differently because when i go for treatment the doctors see my grooming and assume i must be wealthy and usually try to rip me off,so you may find this funny but when i go to see a doctor i usually try and "dress down" in order to look a bit desperately poor (if you can get it,lol) and i avoid speaking my english,mine is considered one that comes from a wealthy person.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  15. K M

    K M Gold Member

    It is different that you dress down, because in my family we do the exact opposite - we get "dressed up" to see the doctor. Not in our very finest clothes, but we certainly take care to look "respectable" and better off. And I always try to sound and listen like I understand any medical phrases used, even though sometimes I have to look them up afterwards. This is probably because with most treatment costs covered by the government, it's time we have to try and convince the doctor and other health care workers to give us - and there is a sense that more time and care is spent on wealthier/better educated people, since they could cause more trouble if something went wrong. I mostly do it because that's what everyone else in the family does! It's just a habit. Maybe @KirstenShute has a different theory about what to wear to the doctor's office.

    The issue of theft from government hospitals in Kenya only to have the stolen drugs appear in doctor-owned chemist's suggests to me that these doctors don't feel they are making enough money from their hospital work. That's too bad - probably they are right in believing they could make more money working somewhere else, (even in Canada private-practice doctors earn more then most doctors working at a hospital) but also it's too bad when a person in a medical profession puts money before care. I believe drug theft from hospitals is also a small problem in Canada, but mostly to sell illegally "on the street" to addicts. Probably a little bit of theft has to be expected when there are powerful drugs on one hand and greed and drug-dependencies on the other. There is a bigger issue with people being prescribed pain killers that turn out to be very addictive, and so there are a lot of people who you typically wouldn't think of as drug addicts that actually have become addicts because of overly zealous prescriptions. Which brings me to another question - is drug addiction a significant problem in Kenyan society?

    Your story of people coming in to take over-the-counter pain killers for everything is sad. It reminds me of something I read not long ago about medicine on the "frontier" in the early to mid 1800's in North America - it was a quip about how sure, they had medicine, other people might call it whiskey. Which is fine for more then 100 years ago, but now...
    What happened to the little girl, and your father, is really criminal.
    Boniface likes this.
  16. Zachary ojendo

    Zachary ojendo Forum Member

    In kenya we have national hospital insurance fund that pay for bed only for inpetient this does not help much since you have to pay the balance from your pocket and when you are outpetient.
    Boniface likes this.
  17. Boniface

    Boniface Afrikan

    @K M thats Africa for you.The dons keep all the aid.
  18. Hope2012

    Hope2012 Gold Member

    And that's why I like Zidisha. You feel like even someone doesn't fully repay, they mostly tried their best and they weren't a big Aid agency.
    Here in UK (England) Pharmacists and nurses are often quite overqualified and in fact both groups were pushing to have more responsibility in diagnosing patients. There was a govt campaign a few years ago reminding you to ask your pharmacist any medical questions before bothering your Dr. I had a relative who was a pharmacist, he knew so much, he actually wanted to be a Dr but couldn't quite afford the training. Also nursing training is free in UK whereas training to be a Dr isn't, so you get very ambitious nurses who know a lot.
    I feel very lucky to be part of our system, it's mostly very good, and it's free. There was also a free phone line so you could call a nurse or Dr but now they've replaced it with a free online symptom checker and you can download it to your iPod or phone.

    The only problems are a rapidly ageing population (I think it's about 17 percent of people in the UK over 65!) and those groups often see the Dr more. My next door neighbour is over 100 years old. We have had the ambulance out every time she falls over which is a few times a year. They won't let us move her if she falls, they insist she must go to hospital and have a full check up everytime. Older people , who live alone have the "red button" scheme, do you have the same? They wear it round their necks, then if any problem they hit the button, the next door neighbour and ambulance both get called.
    Plus a lot of new people have moved in as they keep building more and more houses in my area, we have had a lot of immigration, I think about half a million people in the South East of England in the last ten years but the government didn't plan for it and the Drs haven't increased their numbers. At our local surgery we have the same two doctors but about 300 new patients in the last couple of years so it's definitely got more packed. But mostly you can get an appointment, often the same day, and in emergency the ambulance crew are brilliant. The other problem is the big drug companies often really push their medicines and are not honest about side effects, but I think we are waking up to that now.
    Diabetes is becoming a problem too, but I don't think the UK is alone in that.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  19. Hope2012

    Hope2012 Gold Member

    I just read that part and I very sorry to hear about your dad :( :(
  20. Paul Meltus

    Paul Meltus Silver Member


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