With just three weeks and a few days standing between me and my trip to Malawi, the preparations are in full swing. I spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with my boss this morning, planning our 3-hour seminar on health, healing, and wholeness for the community of Mzuzu. We'll be engaging local health advocates and of course, the attendees will drive the conversation. We're really just going to be there to help facilitate a conversation. But, what an opportunity.
I had a moral crisis about this trip a few weeks ago. I was standing in line at the Target pharmacy with a prescription for Malarone, a very good anti-malaria pill. My right arm was covered in bandages from injections--tetanus booster, Hepatitis A, and typhoid. The travel clinic didn't take insurance, so I'd put the $300 bill on my AmEx. The Malarone pills cost more than $100 for a 14-day supply. Again, I swiped the AmEx, and made sure to put the receipt in a safe place--not because I'd be filing an insurance claim, hoping I'd get some if back, but because my work would be reimbursing me in full. I'd simply code the injections and pills to my "travel account" on my next check requisition form.
When the pharmacist handed me the bottle of little white pills, it hit me: damn, that's some privilege there. Just a phone call to a doctor's office, a Metro ride, and an AmEx got me a prescription to prevent a disease that kills 2 people every minute. And even though I don't have to pay for it myself, I could if I needed to.
I'm still not quite sure what to do with this guilt. I know that not taking the pills does not do me--or anyone else for that matter--any good--no sense in me acquiring a disease and having to seek medical attention while I'm there. That's why I've been doing all of my routine check-ups and getting in good shape before I leave; I want to be completely and totally there to experience it all at my best. But, it's the fact that I have access to quality care and others do not that's got me in a metaphorical headlock.
So, let's do something. $10 buys a bed net to protect a family from the disease. You can go visit Imagine No Malaria to donate. I'm going there now.