I RECENTLY succumbed to my regular bout of Malaria, and this time round it was so bad, I almost punched a cute pharmacist who quoted me two different prices for Coartem, my medication of choice for all diseases transmitted by female mosquitoes.
And if there is one thing that falling sick should teach you, it is that being poor is an inexcusable crime. Yes, the cute pharmacist quoted different prices for the different Coartem prescriptions on offer, with one price doubling the other. Well, in the interest of full disclosure, the first Coartem I was shown was to cost me Rwf3,000 while the second, presumably a better option was quoted at Rwf6,000.
This immediately reminded me of music concerts and fashion shows, where different categories of seats and tickets are usually announced: “Tickets go for Rwf15,000 (VIP), and Rwf5,000 for ordinary…”
Not that I have got any problem with this arrangement, as a music show is really a music show, whether one approaches it from the high table, VIP section, open seating, or even behind the stage. In fact, no journalist worth their salt ever wants to cover a music concert from the luxurious comforts of the VIP arena, even with all the amenities that usually go with it.
But medicine? Just imagine you walked into a pharmacy or clinic, paid up say Rwf5,000 for your prescription, only for the next patient to walk up to the payment counter and pay Rwf10,000 (double the price) of your own dose.
Would you still carry on with the confidence you earlier had in the healing powers of the drugs you just purchased? Personally, I would get tempted to think that the more expensive sick person stands a better chance at recovery than me! Well, at least I would expect their recovery to come a little quicker than my own. Otherwise, why then would their dose of the same drug I purchased cost twice the price of mine?
In my case, the cute pharmacist, seeing that I harbored plans of raising my voice, took to explaining the price differential, assuring me that the more expensive Coartem came with the added advantage of not bearing any significant side effects once taken. Because I don’t like the drowsiness, the burning eyes and aching joints that usually come with another round of medications, I begrudgingly settled for the expensive Coartem.
That said, Coartem is not the kind of language that appeals to me whenever malaria makes its routine call. Neither do I fancy people idly asking to know how I am, because here I am, sick, yet social custom demands that, when asked how I am, I should answer in the affirmative first. Besides, “I am fine, but down with malaria” has never sounded like correct grammar!
When I’m sick, ask not how I am, because I will say “I’m fine”, anyway. Instead, pass me that big, dripping cold Inyange Mango Nector or Fruit Cocktail.