Spacif­i­cally Speak­ing

mailife - - Contents -

And I hope you weren’t on April Fool’s Day – there are lots of fools in our com­mu­nity with­out our­selves be­ing added to the list, but I guess that’s an­other story. More af­ter Septem­ber. Any­way – mabuhai hay from Manila! My dreams of med­i­cal tourism 11 years ago were not dreams but a re­al­ity and I am ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it first hand here in the Phillip­ines. In 2007 when I was the then Min­is­ter of Tourism, I touted med­i­cal tourism for Fiji with some of our own doc­tors prac­tic­ing suc­cess­fully over­seas vis­it­ing me and look­ing at this con­cept of med­i­cal treat­ment in our own is­land par­adise. This didn’t go down well and up till now still hasn’t, for many rea­sons; the main one be­ing the costs – of travel, treat­ment and liv­ing here during re­cu­per­a­tion in Fiji. Hav­ing paid quite an ex­hor­bi­tant sum for med­i­cal treat­ment over the Christ­mas and New Year pe­ri­ods in Suva, I found out about the St Luke’s Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Global City Taguig Manila from my dear friend Judith Ragg. Wast­ing no time I googled the cen­tre and its fa­cil­i­ties and booked my­self in – with the bless­ings of my own doc­tor. I am about to un­dergo an Ex­ec­u­tive Golden Age Screen­ing Test for fe­males over 50 years of age which will in­clude a com­plete blood count (CBC), Crea­ti­nine, Potas­sium, sodium and uric acid tests, lipid pro­file, fast­ing bold sugar, thy­roid stim­u­lat­ing hor­mone test, tread­mill ex­er­cise test, ul­tra­sound of liver and gall­blad­der, kid­neys and blad­der, uri­nal­y­sis and random urine mi­croal­bu­min – crea­ti­nine test, chest X ray, oph­thal­mo­logic ex­am­i­na­tion (vi­su­alacu­ity, fun­doscopy + fun­dus photo, pure tone au­diom­e­try and one thing I am not look­ing for­ward to, nu­tri­tional coun­selling and body fat anal­y­sis – yikes, big fail! I will also have my one den­sity de­ter­mined and my wonky knees looked at as ex­tra add on tests. All this will be done in one day and my re­sults given to me later the next day. All under one roof and my ac­com­mo­da­tion on the same floor in the hos­pi­tal ho­tel fa­cil­ity. Ac­com­pa­nied by my fa­vorite trav­el­ing com­pan­ion, my pre­cious daugh­ter, we were picked up at the air­port and will be dropped off when we de­part – no ex­tra charge but part of the ser­vice of be­ing an in­ter­na­tional pa­tient. The ho­tel rooms are high end pri­vate hos­pi­tal rooms that are used in case of an over­flow of pa­tients although there are more than 16 floors of this mag­nif­i­cent fa­cil­ity and the ex­ec­u­tive screen­ing is on the same floor as our bed­room. We will at­tend Palm Sun­day mass and daily mass at the chapel on the 5th floor and our meals are taken down­stairs be­hind the ‘re­sort like’ en­trance of the re­cep­tion area where there are a mix­ture of lo­cal food eater­ies - mag­nif­i­cent sal­ads, soups and sand­wiches, haute cui­sine and even Star­bucks. St Luke’s has its own bank in the hos­pi­tal, phar­macy and an hourly shut­tle to take you to the lo­cal mall in Global City - Mar­ket! Mar­ket! which boasts 592 shops and res­tau­rants. Metro Manila is at your doorstep but we pre­fer to wan­der near the hos­pi­tal as my med­i­cals are why we came here. St Luke’s was first set up by the Amer­i­can Protes­tant church but is now a not for profit hos­pi­tal. Near­ing 67 years of age I no longer have health in­sur­ance and the above fa­cil­i­ties were very at­trac­tive to me so with my daugh­ter’s and all my brothers’ en­cour­age­ment, and be­ing ad­ven­tur­ous, we took this trip. All the above men­tioned fa­cil­i­ties and our re­turn air­fares dear reader, cost just a lit­tle under what I paid for a day and a pro­ce­dure at our lo­cal pri­vate health fa­cil­ity in Suva – for the two of us! God is so good. I seem to be re­call­ing my time as a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter in days gone by but it seems rec­om­men­da­tions I made all those years ago are com­ing to fruition or I am see­ing the re­al­ity of it all as in St Luke’s. One rec­om­men­da­tion I made as a par­lia­men­tar­ian as well as a min­is­ter was for a pri­vate in­sur­ance scheme for low paid work­ers or for a cer­tain amount of our wages, as in our FNPF, be de­ducted each pay – say 50 cents per wage packet per per­son, to be set aside for to­tally free med­i­cal care in­clud­ing medicines. I ques­tioned a gen­eral meet­ing of in­sur­ance bro­kers during an em­ploy­ers’ ses­sion about such an in­sur­ance scheme al­most two years ago and was told ‘they are work­ing on it!’ Now, great news, Fi­jiCare has in­tro­duced the Bun­dled Mi­croin­sur­ance for sugar cane farm­ers, house girls, shop as­sis­tants, house­wives – in fact any­one who can af­ford a $52 yearly pre­mium. Why do I men­tion the sugar cane farm­ers? All farm­ers who are reg­is­tered with the Sugar Cane Grow­ers Fund (SCGF) for the in­sur­ance scheme and have a named ben­e­fi­ciary are au­to­mat­i­cally cov­ered under the fa­cil­ity. This is an ex­cel­lent scheme for house­girls/as­sis­tants but they must be reg­is­tered under a group like a reg­is­tered NGO or as­so­ci­a­tion and there must be at least 50 per group – as you can imag­ine the pa­per­work! The cover is for Life and fu­neral ex­penses – max­i­u­mum age of 65, per­sonal ac­ci­dent and fire on main dwelling. Nat­u­rally the in­sur­ance cover is fixed and can­not be amended on a case by case ba­sis but all th­ese ques­tions are an­swered very clearly in Fi­jiCare’s Fre­quently Asked Ques­tion brochure which you can pick up at any Fiji Care of­fice. With all the ‘oga’ we are bur­dened with so of­ten in Fiji, it is worth your while to look into this scheme. Vi­nakaFi­jiCare for think­ing of the peo­ple of Fiji. Have a great month – an­other re­minder that the IWA May Ball will be held next month on the 5 May – hope you have a ticket for this won­der­ful event, fundrais­ing for the bet­ter­ment of life for the women and chil­dren of Fiji. Look up the IWA web­site and see the work be­ing done in the past by their fundrais­ing ef­forts. You’ll be pleas­antly sur­prised – and all done with dig­nity and re­spect. PaxVi­tia.

Mrs BER­NADETTE ROUNDS GANILAU is a for­mer ra­dio per­son­al­ity and Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment. Now retired, she con­tin­ues with her NGO work and runs her own busi­ness.

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