As I negotiated the substantial puddle in the car park and drove off I reflected that the imaging centre was typical of the paradox that is Zimbabwe.
I hadn’t had need to be imaged for some three years when the machinery at the imaging centre was more than old and run down so this morning I was pleasantly surprised at the profusion of new equipment. A new digital X-ray machine, MRI and CAT scanner were evident. White, pristine and oozing current technology – I felt reassured that the future of medical imaging technology in Zimbabwe seemed good even if little else did. The staff was pleasant and helpful, the image intensifying dye was injected under a real-time digital X-ray (“text-book stuff” commented the radiologist – clearly delighted with his own handiwork though I suspected it also had something to do with the medical student watching) and I was soon being strapped down on the MRI bed in the “superman position” for my left wrist to be imaged. The equipment was so new that the staff admitted it was only the second wrist that they’d imaged which accounted for the false start whilst they repositioned my wrist without the CD case under it for support!
I was told on the way out that I could collect the DVD of images on Thursday to take to my doctor. Amazingly there was no charge as it was all covered by my medical aid which at $95 per month just for me is well out of the reach of most Zimbabweans. Imaging facilities do of course exist at government hospitals but tend to be basic X-rays and ultrasound and the days of free healthcare for anyone are long gone (though they did exist in the early 1980s).
It was time to get back to work and the reality of puddles and potholes in the road and no phone line because it had been stolen too many times – some 10 years ago!