Sunday, August 19, 2007

Your good health...

A comment the other day was that, in rarely visiting the UK, we have probably lost our immunity to the day-to-day cold bugs in circulation there. An interesting thought and perhaps it means that it is necessary to avoid Brits visiting France! It may also mean that we are still developing an immunity to the common infections here. It is hard to say to what extent this may be so but perhaps just by relocating we face more subtle challenges than the very obvious ones (such as moving to an area where particular diseases are prevalent). In any event, all this does raise the subject of one's health and what standard of care can be expected in a new country.

The question often comes up as to what access we have to health care in rural France, sometimes phrased as if we are in the remotest areas of a developing nation rather than an advance European country! In fact France offers one of the best, if not the finest, health systems - even in a village of just 700 people, in the hills of a rural area, we have a clinic with two doctors and district nurses, as well as a visiting dentist, and are also only about twenty minutes from two local hospitals. So here in rural France, with an excellent health service, we are happy to take our chances with any new bugs we may come up against!

However, if you know that you are going to a country where access to good health care is not easy, then how do you address that - it is not a problem while you enjoy good health but what if the worst happens? Communications, transport, health insurance, etc., can all play their part but how do you prepare for the possibility of a real medical emergency? And if you have an existing condition, then you probably need to investigate very thoroughly what access you will have to your normal treatment and medication, as well as possible emergency services. Perhaps, then, health care should actually be one of the major considerations when contemplating the expat life.

Photo: Chance Agrella

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