2.21.2006

needles

I guess most folks didn't want to talk about health care, although I appreciate the comments that you did leave. Maybe everyone is all talked out on the subject.

In case it's not perfectly, brilliantly, transparently clear, I value Canada's national health insurance beyond measure. Remember, I come from a place where health care is a luxury for the wealthy and well employed, or a bone thrown to the very poor. As far as I'm concerned, that green card in my wallet is a piece of awe and wonder. When people ask me why I moved here, about the differences between the US and Canada, my shorthand version is: war vs health care. In the US, my taxes supported illegal, immoral, unjust, unnecessary war for the profit of a few. In Canada, my taxes support health care for all.

I would never stand in favour of altering the system in a way that lost the fundamental values outlined in the Health Canada Act.

But unless a system is perfect, changes will always be necessary to help it achieve its goals. We have to be open to discussing possible changes with an open mind.

* * * *

I recently discovered another great thing about a public health system: public health information. I needed information about vaccinations for our trip to Peru. The Health Canada website led me right to travel health information, which gave me lots of good things to read, and directed me to a list of Travel Medical Centres by region.

Yesterday we went to a Travel Clinic in Mississauga and began the vaccination process. They have lots of pamphlets and papers so you can educate yourself on your needs, depending on where and why you're traveling. If you're making a pilgrimage to Mecca, you need a vaccination against meningitis. If you're visiting relatives in sub-Saharan Africa, you'll want malaria protection. And so on. They also have a protocol to follow, to ensure you get all the doses (some vaccines require two or three boosters), and so you don't overload your system at one time.

Yesterday we received a diptheria and tetanus booster (one injection, and covered by Ontario Health), plus our first Twinrix, which vaccinates against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Next time we go, we'll get yellow fever vaccination, plus another Twinrix. On our third and last visit, we'll get a typhoid vaccination, plus the last Twinrix. (After the last hepatitis injection, you're immunized for life.) There's also an oral medication that greatly reduces your chance of contracting travellers' diarrhea. We're always careful about water when we travel, but on the other hand, I'm completely adventurous about food - that is, I don't hesitate to try anything, including food from street vendors - and one of has some gastrointestinal issues. So, why not.

I haven't been focusing much on our Peru trip, but beginning this process made me think about it and get really excited. Thank goodness we planned it and paid for our plane tickets before I lost my job.

3 comments:

Granny said...

The only comment I have about health care is that I envy yours, even if not perfect.

Klite said...

Hi
Love the blog
makes me miss Canada(lived there for 2 years in the late 90s).
I would love to know the name of the oral medication for travellers diahorrea. I'm currently living in Malaysia (I'm a Brit) and I occasionally get it here or when I have travelled to say China or Bali.
looking forward to your blog on the Peru Trip(on my list of countries to visit)

L-girl said...

Granny: well said. And so succinctly. :)

Klite: Thanks so much for reading and commenting. The name of the medication is Dukoral. (Of course it may be marketed under different names in different countries.) It protects against E coli bacteria for three months, and also protects against cholera.

It's taken in two oral dosages, one week apart. The pamphlet says if you are at continuous risk, you can repeat 1 dose every 3 months as a booster.

Hope that helps!