The dreaded needle…

This entry is part 3 of 27 in the series, Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Well today I got my (hopefully only round) first round of shots in preparation for traveling to Zimbabwe. Even though the actual journey is still nearly 4 months away I want to make sure I get any necessary medical stuff out of the way. Did I tell you I hate needles yet? Well then, let me tell you, I HATE NEEDLES. But I was surprised, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. At least not as much as getting bloodwork done. When I visited the lab due to doctor’s orders to get my blood checked out for who knows what, I didn’t think they were going to take THAT much blood! Did I tell you I hate needles yet? Yeah I hate needles. I nearly passed out when they stuck that instrument of torture into my veins…at least the kind nurse found my vein on the first try! (clump, the sound of my body passing out and hitting the floor).

Well, on to another subject shall we? While getting my dose of the Hep-A vaccine and the mumps/measles/rubella concotion – I started to think about how much we take for granted here in our country. In the travel package I received from our local public health unit I noted the differences in disease risk – for Canada (my country), the traveler is warned,

Food-borne and water-borne illness:
* Minimal risk throughout the country.

And then the disease risk for Zimbabwe…

Food-borne and water-borne illness:
* High risk throughout the country including deluxe acommodations in major cities.

Did you catch that? Even in deluxe accomodations in Zimbabwe there are high risks for food-borne and water-borne illnesses – let alone the daily acommodations most Zimbabweans live with! In western society (especially in Canada) we have such freedom from concern when it comes to diseases and illness – not to say it doesn’t happen here – but in Zimbabwe its a fact of life!

Here’s another sobering thought – 1 in 4 Zimbabweans have AIDS. That means that if I walk down the streets of Harare and shake hands with folks, chances are that every 4th person I shake hands with has AIDS. Compare that to Canada? Well, AIDS doesn’t even make it to the travel advisory to Canada, I had to do some digging around to find statistics about the incidences of AIDS in my country. Here’s what I found: according to Public Health Canada, approximately 58,000 Canadians were living with AIDS by the end of 2005. According to Statistics Canada, the population of Canada is 32,623,490 at the end of 2005. Doing some simple math that means that 0.17778600634082987442483927991763% of the Canadian population has AIDS or in more understandable terms (and rounded) – 1 in 1779 people have AIDS. So in Zimbabwe, 1 in 4 people I shake hands with has AIDS, in Canada I’ll have to shake hands with 1,779 people before I shake hands with a person with AIDS. Wow, yeah…we kind of do take things for granted here don’t we?

By the way, did I tell you I hate needles…?

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