My trip to the ophthalmologist began ten days ago with a variety of transportations including three days on a triple-deck launch up the Rio Marion, a collective water taxi for a day, motorized canoe for another along the Rio Huallaga, a day hitchhike in a pickup truck to Tarapoto, and a final ten hours by bus from the Amazon jungle up to Piura, Peru in the Andes.
The nation is divided into four sections geographically for medical treatments. If you want kidneys go to Trujillo, for legs to Aeroquip, I travelled to Piura for eyes, and you get your heart in Lima.
Dr. Luna, after a thirty minute exam for $40, said my eyes were fine for jungle walking, and tried writing and reading in mirror image from right-to-left as an eye strengthener. He commented that ‘Vision is like any exercise that may be trained in the gymnasium of a book’,
I don’t need laser or lens surgery, but he wondered why I didn’t wait for him to make his quarterly rounds to Iquitos. All of the geographic specialists make airplane rounds about the country performing examinations in their local colleagues´ offices to ferret patients who need to travel for operations in the specialty cities.
The geographic division of Peru with swinging doctor rounds makes sense because each specialty– kidneys, orthopedic, eyes and heart- requires expensive equipment that individual doctors and hospitals can’t afford. So, for example, with eyes there is one laser machine and a dozen ophthalmologist offices huddled in the same building or block
So, I’m returning to square one in Iquitos by launch, boat, canoe, truck and bus, you see, and awaiting the quarterly arrivals of the other specialists, though it’s likely the honest doctors will find nothing to operate on.