Fillers A memorable patient

An aunt without health insurance

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 01 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:279
  1. Bjørn Blomberg, research fellow
  1. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    Although she was only 44 years old, Mamdogo (“aunt” in Swahili) walked slowly towards us at Bergen Airport. She was definitely not the same Mamdogo I had met a few months earlier in Singida in central Tanzania. My wife, who is of Tanzanian origin, had insisted that we should invite her favourite Mamdogo to our home in Norway. I had agreed, remembering the happy times we had spent with her in Tanzania.

    But, instead of going to the fjords and other attractions, Mamdogo was now lying on the sofa in our flat day after day. I knew that she had suffered from kanda ya jeshi (the “military belt,” Swahili slang for herpes zoster) a few years back, but I was surprised how fast she had deteriorated. I realised that her cough might be due to tuberculosis, and this …

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