Monday, January 22, 2007

Just the guns and steel, please.

I went to the doctor today and got a shot for yellow fever, as well as the vaccine for typhoid, which I chose to take in pill form. You have to take a pill every other day for seven days, but then the vaccine lasts for five years, which will come in handy when the consulate refuses to let me leave the country because I haven't filled out the proper paperwork.

The cost was $220 for just me, and that doesn't include the malaria vaccine or the multitude of other OTC medications and insect repellents I will also need. I am currently choosing between three different malaria vaccines, and pretty much all of them suck. I'm basically researching to choose which one has the least number of disadvantages.

I also learned that the death rate for rabies is 100%. If I am bitten by an animal any bigger than a mosquito, I am to assume it is rabid. At that point, I have 24 hours to find and take the first part of the treatment medicine. If I can't find any in Tanzania, I have 24 hours to be medevac'd out(or have the medicine medevac'd in). If you don't take the first treatment in 24 hours, your chance of death is 100%. There is a rabies vaccine I can take, but it is expensive, laborious, fickle, and the only thing it does is increase my window from 24 hours to 72 hours. Once you pass that mark, there is nothing science can do. That is humbling.

Why is our country rich, and theirs so poor? Is it because we are smarter than they? Are we just less violent? No, we are richer and more successful than they are because we have won the geographic lottery. I had three shots a couple weeks ago for blood work, tetanus, and the first in the series for hepatitis B. I am literally running out of places for the doctor to stick me with needles. Today slapped me in the face. Today was an affirmation that Guns, Germs, and Steel was right about everything -- I was really smart when I chose my parents. If you want a single book to explain the entire world to you, please buy and read the brilliance that is Jared Diamond's masterpiece. It won a Pulitzer. It was recommended by Warren Buffett, and then Bill Gates (who wrote the forward). Between those two and the Pulitzer committee, I'd say your book is doing alright.


Gillian said...

You are spot on with regard to Jared Diamond. His follow up book 'Collapse' is also stunning.

However, for a broader perspective on poverty, Jeffrey Sachs 'The End of Poverty' is a MUST READ. He gives Diamond full credit for describing the power of geography, and then he adds extra dimensions of economic analysis.

You might be interested in my blog --- -- it discusses various issues relating to poverty in Africa, with a special focus on Tanzania and the School of St Jude in Arusha. Are you going to Arusha? I'll read more of you blog and see what I find out!

Rick said...

Wow, fascinating that you would recommend Sachs' book. I recently added it to my Amazon wish list, and just watched a PBS documentary on economics called "Commanding Heights" which prominently featured Jeffrey Sachs when he was still at Harvard. Thank you for the recommendation! I will certainly be purchasing this (as well as "Collapse," which is also already on my wish list!). Perhaps I will read them both on the 10-20 hour flight from London to Kilimanjaro. I was deciding between Kili and Arusha, and ultimately decided on Kilimanjaro. I had no set plans to visit Arusha, but perhaps I will make it over there to visit the school! Thanks a lot for sharing your comments.