Labs on wheels

Doctors, midwives, and other health care workers doing the heroic job of serving the far flung barrios know how difficult and yes, sometimes frustrating it is to be where they are.  Not only is there a dearth of funds for proper and complete medical care, it’s also difficult to have ancillary and diagnostic procedures done.  Most needed procedures are deferred because the barrio does not have the required equipment to do the diagnostics.  Most patients are referred to the cities where there is generally more facilities.  However going to the city requires money for fare. Most people do not have any health insurance – and do not know they can check quite easily to see if they qualify for a European health insurance card here. More importantly, some patients just cannot travel long distance, hence the doctor is forced to treat empirically.

Although many laboratories now offer home services, most often these are limited to procedures like blood works wherein the only real service done at home is the drawing of the blood and the specimen is sent to the laboratory for analysis.  But of course this could be done only for households that are not too far from the laboratory.

Since the government has initiated the doctors-to-the-barrios, I wonder if they would consider also mobile laboratories and mobile imaging devices (like xrays and ultrasounds) to serve the more far flung parts of the Philippines.  These would somehow make it easier for both the doctors and the other health workers.  While it’s possible to treat without having to order ancillary procedures, there are times that we doctors need more information to make a better assessment on the patient’s condition and what else, if possible, we can do to remedy the situation.

The challenge of public health is for government to make health care accessible to people everywhere in the country.  Door to door vaccination is a great step, but there should be continuous efforts to bring health care closer to the people.

Modern tools for assisted mobility

The Philippines is not exactly handicap-friendly. While we may have parking spaces for handicapped, we hardly have any other facilities to make mobility easier for people who need assistance in mobility. Forget about getting into the LRT/MRT/Megatren if you need a wheelchair or crutches. Sure there are elevators, but once you get to your desired floor, it would be difficult to get into the train itself. And even then, you need assistance from another person. Ditto buses. Taxis or private cars are the way to go, but even then, it’s not easy.

At home, we don’t usually plan for something unexpected like losing the use of a leg or getting a stroke. Not to mention that we try to maximize the lot area that we have by building vertically. That’s why when we encounter problems later on that would necessitate assisted mobility, we are at a loss on what to do.

I’ve come across a site that offers home elevators. While this may sound like overkill to some people, let me assure you that if you are in the situation of needing it, you’d be thankful there’s this option. I mean, good for people who only need to navigate one floor of living space but what if your home consists of several floors. Vertical buildings, remember?

Another option, especially for those homes who do not have space for the aforementioned home elevator but has an existing staircase are stairlifts. These contraptions are fitted onto the banister of the stairs and may help with people who have difficulty going up, especially if assistance is not always available.

Granted, this type of lift is not for people who need the wheelchair to get around all the time. In such cases, the wheel chair lifts seem to be more useful. It is certainly more versatile, as it can be used both indoors and outdoors. The manufacturer also claims that the cost is comparable to putting a ramp.

While I’m guessing that a cost of these are likely out of the reach of the ordinary Pinoy, it’s comforting to know that now there are options, and that there’s a chance for people with some difficulties in mobility may be able to muster a bit of independent living, even if it’s just in their own homes.