A work colleague was involved in a motorbike accident on the weekend. She’s in the hospital at the moment and I went to visit her this morning. Unfortunately she’s in quite a serious state. Her leg is broken and she hasn’t regained consciousness since the accident last Saturday afternoon.

The accident was caused by a drunk driver. Drink driving seems to account for a large number of motor accidents here. An Australian volunteer broke his wrist in an accident caused by a drunk police officer. I was told the car hit two motorbikes. I asked if the driver would get into trouble. It depends, I was told, on how much money the driver has to bribe the police. My work colleague was riding on the back of the bike as a passenger. He brother was the driver. He’s in hospital too, unable to move but at least conscious.

A Lao hospital is not a nice place, but not quite as bad as I was expecting from the horror stories I’d been previously told.

Her family came down to care for her, traveling over 12 hours by bus to get to Vientiane. The room was crowded with family, and she was quite lucky to share it with only one other person. In a Lao hospital the families care for the patients, and occasionally a doctor or nurse will come around for an inspection or to perform a procedure.  You family will wash you, bring you food and drink, and buy you medicine.

Most of the patients I saw were on an IV drip. In an Australian hospital these are tied to a metal trolley that patients can bring with them to carry around as they walk the halls. In a Lao hospital a relative walks with you, holding up the IV drip bag.

Families sit or sleep in the halls and foyer areas of the hospital. There are even some hospital beds sitting in foyers near the stair well. A large percentage of the patients look like they have been involved in a motor accident.

The overall condition of the hospital building was comparable to that of a really old high school building that probably needs to be pulled down and rebuilt. The Lao doctor that examined her said she would be okay and consciuos in five days. I’m a little skeptical about the validity of that assessment.

Her family are debating whether or not to take her to Thailand. A trip to Thailand is expensive, and could be more than 100’000 Thai Baht.  The health care in Laos is quite terrible. Thailand’s health care is apparently very good, and even comparable to Australian standards.

Michael Moore has a new film out called “Sicko”. I haven’t seen it, nor am particularly interested in seeing it, but I heard an interesting fact from a CNN interview with him. Cuba has the 39th best health care system in the world, and the US has only the 37th. I would like to know what makes Cuba’s health care system so good, probably the best relative to its GDP per capita, and whether this system can be adopted in a country like Laos.