Essential Peru Information – Seeing a Doctor in Cusco
October 26, 2012
There is nothing worse than getting ill when you’re away on vacation. All you want to do is enjoy yourself and get out and about to see all the wonder attractions on offer. Unfortunately, it is not un-common for travellers to Peru to fall ill. The most common afflictions are upset stomachs, followed by altitude sickness and the occasional broken bone. Seeing a doctor in Cusco is really not that hard, you just need to know what to do. Our travel expert Paul Jones offers some helpful advice on what you need to do should feel ill.
The Language Barrier
The thought of seeing a Doctor in Cusco is probably more daunting than it actually is. After all you’re in Peru and you are going to have the added difficulty of the language barrier. Well this is true to some extent, but you really need not worry as there are plenty of doctors that speak English, and there are a lot more people who can translate for you.
The Health System in Cusco
Believe it or not Peru operates a national health system. Unfortunately, this is only available to Peruvians and not foreigners. There are however, quite a few private clinics and hospitals where seeing a doctor in Cusco is made easy. In fact in the last few years 3 brand new medium sized hospitals have been built. At the bottom of this page is a list of the best private clinics available.
Are the Doctors in Cusco Any Good?
Certainly the medical system in Peru in general is not as good as you find in western-countries. But the doctors are certainly good enough to deal with the majority of cases presented before them. In-fact sometimes I feel that I get better service and attention here that I did back in the UK. Seeing a Doctor in Cusco is perfectly fine providing you don’t require major medical overhaul. This is probably best left up to your own doctors on your return home.
How Much Does it Cost
If you don’t have medical insurance for your trip, then you need not worry. A consultation with a doctor will cost you between 60 – 80 Soles (US$ 22 – 30). Normally this price includes the first consultation and a follow up a few days later. If the doctor decides that you need admitting to hospital the price can quickly rise, but by western standards it is still cheap. A private room, with doctor consultations and attending nurses will probably set you back 300 – 350 Soles per night.
Buying Medicine and/or Equipment
If your doctor decides that you need some medication then they will write you a prescription. You need to take this prescription to one of the many pharmacies, and purchase your medication. If you are emitted into hospital, then this is also the case! Ask a friend to go and purchase everything you need. This may include hypodermic needles, medical gloves, intravenous drip, antibiotics etc. When using any pharmacy (even the supposedly good ones) always check the expiration date on the products that you are buying, and check that the packaging is intact and has not been previously opened.
ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostel Cusco for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bar is free even for non-guests
You may need to have a few tests done to confirm what illness you actually have. Testing for bacteria’s and parasites is quite normal for people that have up-set stomachs or are vomiting. Tests can be made at any number of laboratories in the city (there is usually a hand-full close to most clinics). Your doctor will give you a request for the necessary tests, which you need to take to the lab. At the lab they will indicate how much time you need to wait before the results are ready. Usually most tests are ready in a few hours. If you are hospitalized then the tests are done by the onsite team of micro-biologists, so there is no need to leave your bed!
The Most Common Health Issue
It is not uncommon that travellers to Cusco get an up-set stomach. The difference in hygiene standards, the way that food is handled and cultural differences all enhance the chances of picking up a bug. The majority of people pass through Cusco without any problems, but I would say that 2 in 10 get an upset stomach, and perhaps 1 in 30 need to see a doctor. If you are ill and really don’t feel very well, seeing a doctor in Cusco at the earliest opportunity is the best option. Once you have determined what the problem is, a course of antibiotics will have you up and running again within a day or so. If vomiting occurs then this is a sure sign of a viral or intestinal infection. In this case you must brave it and seek medical advice.
A Word of Caution!
Although seeing a doctor in Cusco is quite a simple process, some doctors, usually those affiliated with a private clinic may not always be 100% honest. It is quite common that your doctor may decide that you need a couple of nights in hospital, when in-fact it is not necessary. This is usually the case if you have an upset stomach or something similar. If you are feeling really bad then it is probably worth spending a night under the supervision of the hospital. However, for most cases a course of medication, fluids and a few days rest in your hotel is just as adequate. Judge for yourself if you think you need to stay overnight, or the hospital is just trying to get a little more money out of you.
Address: 1410, Avenida La Cultura, Cusco Website:http://macsalud.com (in Spanish) Telephone: 984 -569449 Location: 7 minutes from the main Plaza in taxi (4 Soles).
This is one of the newest private clinics in Cusco. Located on the principle avenue leading along the valley of Cusco, it is also well located for people using hotels in the colonial centre. They are specialists in just about every area of medicine, and can handle emergencies. The hospital also has several floors of private rooms, all which have private bathrooms and a separate bed for another person.
Address: Avenida La Cultura 710, Cusco Website: tbc Telephone: 240-387 Location: 6 minutes from the main Plaza in taxi (4 Soles). This clinic has just finished a complete refurbishment, and is the newest and (potentially) best facility in Cusco. Located 5 minutes from the centre of Cusco, this private clinic is a popular choice for many tourists in Cusco. The hospital specializes in all types of medicine, including walk-in emergencies and has private rooms for patients.
Clinica San Jose
Address: Avenida Los Inca’s 1408, Cusco Telephone: 253295 / 243367 Website: www.sanjose.com.pe (in Spanish) Location: 7 minutes from the main Plaza in taxi (4 Soles).
A private clinic that has been open for the last 12 years, and is located just behind Mac Salud on Avenida Los Inca, a 7 minute taxi ride from the centre of Cusco. The clinic has an onsite pharmacy, 2 good laboratories and private rooms for patients. The hospital specializes in all types of medicine, including walk-in emergencies.
This Peru travel information was brought to you buy the Peru travel experts at Totally Latin America. For more help about seeing a doctor in Cusco or for any other information, please feel free to contact us personally.