Tuesday, March 10, 2009

CDF in the news

I don’t work on this project, but 10 points if this article helps you understand the term “economic governance.” If you weren’t confused about what my organization does before, you probably are now.

Speaking of governance, I’m pretty excited to have ordered a copy of It's Our Turn to Eat, which is only available in the UK and apparently is too hot for Kenya. I wonder if it’ll make it through Indian postal screening, because you know, Kenya is the only country with a corruption problem.

Monday, March 9, 2009

An apple a day…

I just had my first experience with the Indian healthcare system. It should be a credit to India that I’ve been here 8 months and this is the first time I’ve had to see a doctor. That or to Kenya, for immunizing me against every tropical disease imaginable.

India is acclaimed for the high quality and, more importantly, dirt-cheap nature of its healthcare services. It is so dirt-cheap, in fact, that health insurance covers hospitalization only, no basic services – which seems fair, since the typical price for a doctor’s consultation is around $10 (half that of just the co-pay in the US!). In Chennai, if you are a foreigner, no one will recommend to you any institution other than Apollo Medical Center, the world-renowned ultra-modern private hospital. There were rumors that Apollo was a little pricier than the typical clinic, but hey, this is “high quality and dirt-cheap healthcare” India. So when I developed a mild but stubborn skin rash from SE Asia, I decided to go check it out.

The dermatologist was friendly and professional, and shrugged off my concern about the price of tests with a “don’t worry, nothing is expensive in India.” Then came his recommended course of action for my rash:

3 blood tests
2 inflammation-reducing creams
Avoid groundnuts
Avoid bottled beverages
Avoid cheese
Avoid processed foods
Avoid strawberries and strawberry products
Avoid beer
1 anti-allergy tablet
1 prescription soap to use in the shower
…and a partridge in a pear tree.

I guess I don’t have to worry about underdiagnosis.

The bill for all of this hoopla came to about $60 – nothing outrageous, but at the end of the day it was 3x what it would have been if I was working in the US. It does not make me excited about the prospect of seeing a doctor for an *actual* medical condition.

And for the record, I bought one of the creams and the soap, ignored the rest of the diagnosis, and the skin rash was gone in 4 days.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dartmouth’s new prez

Dartmouth just announced its new president, set to take over for good old Jimmy Wright on July 1. He’s like, way young (49), way accomplished (MacArthur Genius Grant) and way global-poverty-focused (Partners in Health co-founder, WHO HIV/AIDS Dept director). Woot.

Of course there is no transparency on who the other nominees were, so I have no idea if this was the best choice. But in absolute terms, a young-minority-notentirelyacademic-globallyconscious choice for a traditionallyrunbyoldwhiteguys-antichange-indangerofinfluencebyneoconservativealums school sounds pretty good to me.