Hong Kong, I love you but you’re bringing me down.
I moved here five months ago from Australia’s very quiet, very comfortable, very clean capital, Canberra. As you can imagine, relocating to Hong Kong has been a shock to the system – and not least to the immune system.
Besides feeling mighty sorry for myself, I’ve also had a quick introduction to the Hong Kong medical system. Yes, it is convenient, generally fast and cheap. But, to put it simply, doctors here prescribe drugs like there is no tomorrow.
I’m not sure whether they are appeasing the patient’s need to be medicated or the drug company’s need to medicate – but it’s just too much. Never before have I come away from a visit to the doctor with seven different medications for tonsillitis and a cough. I was given everything from a basic pain reliever to drugs to treat side effects of other drugs prescribed.
Most worrying of all is that doctors here seem to hand out antibiotics like they are confectionery. Hello! Superbugs!
Only last year bacteria resistant to all the antibiotic drugs commonly used in Hong Kong were found on the city’s MTR rail network. Another university study found HK$20 bills were a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The findings come amid growing global concern over the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, and with China among the world’s largest users and producers of antibiotics, it will spell disaster if we continue down this path.
After (naively) taking all seven drugs prescribed by my doctor, I spent a long, drowsy and delirious weekend cooped up in my flat. It wasn’t until I sent photos of what I’d taken to my mother, who is a nurse in Australia, that I realised I should have paid more attention. She told me to stop taking four of the prescribed medications, as they were unnecessary.
Unlike those people who search the internet to find out what illness they might have before heading to the doctor, I now spend my time googling the drugs I’ve been given after visiting the doctor to decipher which I actually need to take.
Of course, I’m no medical professional, just a whingeing patient, but I feel like rather than handing out yet another round of pills, I’d prefer the doctor told me to toughen up.