Dispatches from South America – ‘No Remedias Para Usted’

So…it was bound to happen. It might have been something I ate. Perhaps I wasn’t quite as careful with the tap water as I should have been. Or, maybe it was those damned bus fumes combined with the thin air…

…but just as I returned to Ecuador from a week in Peru, I got sick as a dog. For three days I felt like I was having an acute asthma attack combined with nausea from hell. Body aches? Oh yeah. Fever? Yup… ’bout 100 F for at least 24 hours. So, not wanting to infect anybody else, I pretty much took to my bed and did a lot of sleeping. But I also trekked with the Frogette down to Farmacia Fybeca to try and obtain an over-the-counter “remedia” for my body-aches and cough. You know, something like Actifed or Tylenol Cold and Sinus. And what did we discover at our favorite pharmacy? You can’t get anything in Ecuador without a prescription, not even basic cough suppressants.

Now I’m not sure if this is the case all over South America (hopefully not), but it seems like a pretty short-sighted policy to me. Consider that H1N1 spread faster in South America than just about anywhere in the world, a problem that could have been mitigated by having easy access to standard over-the-counter remedies. I mean, let’s face it, in a country where nobody…and I mean nobody…covers their mouths when they sneeze or cough, the one sure way to keep an airborne virus down is to make sure nobody *HAS* to cough.

More ‘Dispatches From South America’

6 thoughts on “Dispatches from South America – ‘No Remedias Para Usted’”

  1. Prescriptions for everything? That’s gooper-style craziness. May you feel better soon, and don’t worry, just wait until we bring freedom to those third worlders.

  2. That’s odd. It was just the opposite when I was traveling through Asia a long time ago, especially Iran and Afghanistan. You could get antibiotics and some tranquilizers over the counter at pharmacies.

    Prescriptions for everything — great for doctors but it sucks for everyone else.

  3. Randal… Could you hurry up that “bring freedom…” thing? I’m feeling a little under the weather today. ;-)

    Tom… Moreover, if this is really the case with all the pharmacies, I suspect a lot of people won’t even go to the doctor for the prescription–too much money. We’re talking a country where the minimum wage works out to less than $300.00 / month.

  4. We used to go to Tijuana to stock up on medicines when I was younger. Penecillin, things like that. Sold everything at the local equivalent of Rite-aid. Don’t know if it’s still like that.

  5. Oso… Haven’t been to Ciudad Juarez myself in many years, but people used to to say the same thing about getting medications there.

    M. Yu… If I get to the point where I need *that* kind of medicine, I’m coming back to the states! :-)

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