November 4, 2013

Health Care or Lack Of

We were recently informed of MCC’s change in insurance coverage which now allows us to receive care from the fanciest hospital in Managua.  Before this change, Kevin and I took pride in the fact that MCC encourages us to live simply – we use public transportation, live in barrios and have our health care needs met, but by the more moderate providers here in Managua. 


The new change brought a lot of questions for us.  Will national staff also receive this benefit?  They have different types of coverage due to the laws and regulations of Nicaragua.  Would we access this new benefit if a health concern arose?  Or would we continue at the hospital that has provided quality care for us?  Would our decision change if we were to experience a more severe medical need?  We have generally been healthy here and have not been concerned that moderate care would impact us negatively.  If we were to have kids here, what would we choose for them?  Choices, choices, choices.  And it seems a bit elite of us to even be having this conversation when the children right next door are not afforded the same choices.

Two weeks ago a 18 year old male from our neighborhood died of dengue fever.  He complained that he didn’t feel well, after two days they went into the public hospital and he died on the third day.  Preventable, treatable, and not something that people generally die of in the United States.  And to make it even worse, he was supposed to get married last week Saturday.  They had everything planned and ready to go, and now his family and fiancé have been left to live life without him.

Last Wednesday evening, our neighbor lady came over with a black plastic bag.  She was taking donations to purchase coffee and bread for an all-night vigil that would be held later that evening for a 10 year old neighbor girl who passed away that morning.  She had been in the hospital for the last month due to appendicitis and three weeks ago things were looking brighter.  They were planning to come home, but had to complete one last minor surgery.  From what we can understand through neighborhood storytelling and our lack of Spanish knowledge for medical terms, a mistake was made by the doctor and an infection ensued.  She died, blind, a week later.  To add to the pain, her parents lost their 21 year old son last January in a car accident.  Their third and last living child will be born any day.  Again, from what we can understand, this death was preventable and treatable, something we would not worry about in the United States.

And this is where we are left, in pain and grief for the loss in our neighborhood and in wondering how we can best support them besides showing up for two hours at the vigil and mass.  It also leaves us to wondering why we have choices about our medical care and these individuals do not.  Injustice, yes.  Inequality, yes.  If our neighbors had a choice to access to the healthcare that we had, would they.  Of course!  Then why wouldn’t we?  As we continue to struggle with what is means to live in solidarity, we are forced to examine our choices while admitting that most of our neighbors do not have the luxury of these choices.


For additional information read:

Dengue on the rise in Nicaragua

Nicaragua enfrenta “crisis” de salud por dengue

Nicaragua mobilizes fumigation against dengue

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad situations. I applaud you for your willingness to ask these questions. -Jess