Everyone had warned me, repeating over and over than ‘everyone get’s ill in Kabul’. Having been to and lived in much filthier places, I was pretty sure they must’ve meant ‘the common person (but not Adi) gets sick in Kabul’. Turns out I was wrong and I fell ill this Saturday. My immune system is certainly not award-winning and I am the master of catching unsightly rashes (preferably in my face) whenever I approach the equator, but I’ve never had to consult a doctor about stuff, so I was really upset (mainly a bruised ego) that I had to degrade myself and go to the German Clinic and beg for a cure this weekend. The facility is in the middle of Kabul in an inconspicuous looking building, but is surprisingly well equipped, clean and knowledgeable (as far as I could tell). It was started by two German medical workers who had worked at the German Malteser Hospital in Kabul and felt the city needed something more sophisticated in terms of diagnostics. Not surprisingly now everything runs according to German standards (very reassuring I must say ;-) and all equipment and medicine is imported from Germany (again, very welcome seeing that I could actually read what I am taking). The nursing and admin staff are all Afghan and from the names of the doctors I suspect that at least two of them will also be Afghan. You have to pay USD 100 upfront before they will even look at you, which is more than most Afghans make in a month (the overall country’s average monthly wage has been estimated to be at USD 30, it’s higher for Kabul but people who make $100 or more are few). Still, the waiting room, in which I got to spend a whole three hours, was filled with 90% Afghans. Among the national patients about 85% were men… I tried to come up with all sorts of theories trying to convince myself that there might be an acceptable reason for that, but fact is this country has among the highest maternal death rates in the world – and the waiting room observation is likely to be part of that equation. Even though the doctor was a lady and so were there nurses that were with me in the examination room. Anyways, the lab was efficient and 24 hours later I had a diagnosis (salmonella and something else with a name too long to remember). Was immediately put on meds, which the clinic’s own pharmacist counts out and then explains to you with pictures (and words of course) to make sure illiterate patients can follow too. So hopefully, I’m done being sick in a week. All together I thought it reassuring to know that there is a decent facility here, though the question of access to its services remains.
This trip and internship would have never been possible without the very generous support of theNancy Germeshausen Klavans Cultural Bridges Fellowship from the Women in Public Policy Program (WAPP) at the Harvard Kennedy School. http://www.hks.harvard.edu/wappp/students/internships/indexngk.htm