Jean-Paul was lying on a gurney. He looked much younger than 12, his growth stunted by Type 1 diabetes and malnutrition. He was unconscious and breathing in grunts. His sticklike wrists barely had a pulse.
In any emergency room in the United States, doctors would have immediately inserted a breathing tube in his throat, resuscitated him and admitted him to intensive care. In rural Haiti, we had no such options.
His father, gripping the gurney, told us Jean-Paul had been sick for a few days; he hadn’t known Jean-Paul’sinfection could drive his sugars dangerously high; if he’d had a glucometer, as most American diabetics do, he could have seen it for himself. The small devices measure blood sugar by reading a drop of blood on a test strip.
But while the local health center had a glucometer, it was out of test strips. And our district hospital didn’t have enough glucometers to give one to every patient. In any event, Jean-Paul’s family waited to make the expensive and time-consuming trip to our hospital, hoping their son’s illness would pass. They waited until he was so sick that they had no choice. via – NYTimes.com