Extreme Medical Tourism

In this post Jasper Lawrence describes a trip to Cameroon to infect himself with hookworms. Here’s how it begins:

As my asthma got worse I became increasingly reliant on inhalers, pills and antihistamines as well as upon the oral steroid prednisone to stay out of hospital. I tried all the drugs and therapies available. As it was by the time I was in my late 30s I was a frequent visitor to the emergency room. As anyone who has experienced a severe asthma attack can tell you they are terrifying.

My use of prednisone increased, and as you may know the side affects of prednisone are quite horrible, particularly with long-term use. I started to suffer from some of these side affects, particularly obesity, and despite all this these drugs were only marginally effective in controlling my asthma.

Soon I was denied health insurance and so now I had the added burden of paying for all my medical care.

On a trip in the summer of 2004 to visit relatives in England I learned of a BBC documentary about the connection between a variety of intestinal parasites and various autoimmune diseases.

In Cameroon:

Cameroon has no tourism infrastructure, its people being so poor (your pocket change represents two or three months wages) and the insane corruption make for a very challenging environment for a western traveler, particularly a conspicuous white one. You are a walking pile of cash, a visitor from another, much wealthier, planet. One feels very vulnerable and exposed. It can be very wearing and the danger of being robbed is constant. . . . With the driver’s help (I told everyone of my quest) I was able to visit a variety of villages and with practice learned to identify where the locals would defecate.

Worm therapy.

5 Replies to “Extreme Medical Tourism”

  1. I am very impressed that the author of the article set up a clinic and commercialized the therapy. Good for him!

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