According to our travel health book fever in the tropics should always be taken seriously. If living in a malarious area consider fever to be malaria until proven otherwise, it reads. You have to get to the doctor preferably within 8 hours of getting a fever, it goes on to warn us.
So, is Kupang a malarious area or not? This was one of our big questions before we got here. According to all medical resources all of east Indonesia is malarious area. Otherwise cities are usually counted to be malaria free, but not Kupang. Most people will say that there is some malaria here, but mostly a less dangerous type (vivax). We had to make a decision whether or not to use anti malaria pills. After a lot of reading on the internet and praying about it we decided not to ( considering all the negative side effects of malaria pills ). Instead we decided to make sure we didn’t get any mosquito bites. This is of course quite impossible. By installing air conditioners in the house and sealing all gaps between windows and doors we have been able to make the house mosquito free. The children are sprayed with mosquito repellent before they go to school and before they go out to play in the afternoons. But they still get bitten. We have even tried eating B vitamin pills. Medically it is just a myth that this works against mosquito bites, but after having used them for some months they actually seem to work at least a bit…
A bigger problem than malaria is dengue fever. We are at the height of the dengue fever season now, being at the end of the wet season. One of our neighbours had dengue fever a few weeks ago and was in hospital for a week. The day she came home somebody came and sprayed the whole area for mosquitoes. This is a free offer from the government in trying to minimize the problem.
So after having been here for over 9 months we have had our first high fevers.We had had some quite rough weeks leading up to this where we were not able to sleep very well. Mostly because of a lot of very heavy rain in the nights, and also quite a lot of power cuts. (A few weeks ago we had 8 power cuts in a period of 24 hours, the longest one lasting 3 hours. Then last week we had a power cut in the evening/night that lasted for 6 and a half hours. This in addition to all the shorter “normal” daily power cuts). In addition the kitchen exploded with mould. Wether it was the lack of sleep or the mould or just some virus, we don’t know, but the result was that we all got unwell. Aches, colds, head-aches, coughs…….and fevers…..So we chose to play safe and had our first encounters with the health care system in Kupang.
What we had heard about hospitals here was not that great. The more well off people here will go to Jakarta or some other bigger city in Indonesia when for example giving birth. The facilities in Kupang are not good enough. Luckily we have a small but nice, new and clean hospital just a short walk away from our house. This is actually a maternity hospital, but they also take other patients. We had to go there two days in a row with two different family members. The conclusion was that it was nothing serious. Monica was quite happy to check out their very small and very basic lab.
On the way home we even met a British woman whom we have spoken to a couple of times in the hypermarket. She actually lives 5 min walk from here, and we never knew. She came to visit us with her little baby daughter a couple of days later, which was also very nice 🙂 She actually told us that she has had malaria three times and dengue fever once. It’s very useful for us to hear about other foreigners experiences.