By Jean H Charles
April is the time for the birds and the buds to surface after their hibernation in winter. Even in the tropical Caribbean, the Spring season is clearly visible, with the new leaves from the mahogany and the cedar trees surfacing after they have given their corn filled with seeds that few people care to harvest.
Jean Hervé Charles LLB, MSW, JD, former Vice-Dean of Students at City College of the City University of New York, is now responsible for policy and public relations for the political platform in power in Haiti, Répons Peyisan. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol
It has been my custom to follow the pattern of the season to check up the vagaries of nature on the body, the mind and the spirit.
I usually have my medical checkup in the United States; this year I have mine in Haiti. It was cheaper, faster, and more convenient than last year. This experience defies the concept of the best practice model where the United States, in spite of the shortcomings in the health care area, does have the world’s best medical infrastructure in the industry.
My father of 101 years old was feeling uncomfortable with swelling in the feet. He needed urgent medical care. My sisters in the United States were urging immediate travel to New York for the best care. But in the meantime, a nephew, who is the medical director of a major hospital in Port au Prince, stepped in to offer his medical expertise.
I was pleased and surprised to find out that Med Lab, housed in Canapé Vert hospital, under the direction of Mr Ralph Baboun, was administering laboratory services with the highest standard that you can find from any of the best medical institutions in the western world. More surprising, it was cheap, fast and efficient. The price for blood, urine and feces exam was no more than $37.50. In the case of my father, he was eligible to a reimbursement of 80% of the cost due to the fact that he is retired from the Haitian judicial system as a former chief judge of the civil court.
My medical cousin provides a home visit, a medical service in short supply in the United States, coupled with a fifteen minutes chat of doctor to patient service, explaining the details of the ailments and offering diet advice that may be as beneficial as the pills. Last year my father was hospitalized in Brooklyn NY for the same ailment. He was discharged with no clear information that the problem was a lack of protein that caused the swelling at or around the same time in April or May.
I took advantage of the live experience of my father’s checkup to follow the same path for my own checkup. It was pleasant, albeit I could not benefit from the 80% reimbursement since I was not a state retiree nor does Haiti have a universal health insurance policy.
An excellent checkup result will depend on how diligent you were in practicing your daily exercises throughout the year. I have been constant in that routine. But I was delinquent in following God’s advice that those who pray together shall have a better stand in his indulgence. I recently registered at health club not too far from my home and what a eureka!
Under the beat of a drum, the aerobatics instructor forces you to sweat and reach parts of the body that have not been moved for years. My abdomen that has taken a curve that resembles a three months pregnancy has been interfering with the right of the woman to her full sexual stimulation. I was determined to put a fast remedy to this interference. At a cost of $25 per month, I have been submitting myself to the gruesome rituals that will make the body firm and lean.
The Bahamas has entered recently into the select club of tropical places that provide medical tourism to its tourist clientele. Haiti’s most dynamic Minister of Tourism Stephanie Balmir could add one more layer of services that the country could offer to its tourist clients. Imagine aerobatics exercises to the tune of the drum at the Labadie beach or profiting from a trip to Haiti for a spring medical checkup (if not insured) at one third of the cost in the United States: no more than $100, labs and medical examination included.
For the last ten years I have been promoting once a year at this time of the year, the good health habits that include daily exercises. The states that foot the bill for medical bills should also demand that the citizens practice good health habits. It should also incorporate as a regular course of business providing health monitors in public parks to facilitate such culture. I am surprised that Mayor Mike Bloomberg, so concerned with health issues after his fight against soda, cigarettes and lard, did not leave that legacy to the citizens of New York City.
China is leading the world in urging its citizens to practice all types of callisthenics; this movement is exported wherever you will find a Chinatown in most of the cities of the United States.
Eating natural food, free of chemical fertilizers, following nature in its sequence to listen to the body for renewal and rejuvenating and living according to Aristotle’s principle: in medio stat virtus -- in the middle ground you will more likely to find virtue. These are the steps that will lead to a long and happy life.