I gave birth to our son, Noah, here in Mossel Bay in the public government hospital. In South Africa there is both public and private health care available. The majority of the population cannot afford the private care and therefore uses the government care. Until last week I was pretty proud of myself for doing something that most Americans or even white South Africans wouldn’t be willing to do. The hospital is not pretty. In fact Josh had a very close encounter with a mammoth sized cockroach during our stay there. However, I had my own private doctor for the delivery and was given the only private room in the maternity ward.
Over the past week we have been gathering everything we need to reapply for our visas. One of the requirements is that we needed to have medical exams to show that we are healthy. We have gone to a neighborhood private doctor here before. A consultation costs about 55USD. Since all three of us had to have exams we decided to try and save some money and look into seeing a government doctor. First, we went to the hospital in the neighboring town, which is much bigger then Mossel Bay. We were informed that to see the doctor there means showing up as early as 7am to wait…and wait…and wait. Wait probably about 6 or 7 hours before you actually see the doctor. Then we decided to check out the local government clinics. A similar story except that at the clinic you wait hours just to see the nurse then she will decide if you need to see the doctor and will give you a referral to go and wait at the hospital to see the doctor there. Most of these clinics and hospital waiting rooms are full of women with babies. Waiting all day to see the doctor or to bring their sick child to see the doctor. It was an eye opening experience. I can’t imagine having to wait like that when my child was sick.
In the end we found a private clinic that only charged about 25USD per consultation. So there is some middle ground, but still….