When you live in a country or travel there, you can always get health issues. The question will be where to get yourself help? Most travelers have a travel insurance and will choose for the best possibilities available. People without insurance and limited financial back up might choose for a more affordable option. Of course, it all depends on what your health issue is.
For simple scan’s, x-rays, stitches or infections, you can easily trust a local state hospital. For more serious diseases and issues, you better opt for a private clinic. In Vientiane there is a private French clinic. You can get yourself checked by a specialist for around 300.000 kip ($37).
Another issue than health, is how to get to the right clinic in a country where most people don’t understand English. A Tuktuk driver easily says that he knows where, but after a long ride, you still have a possibility to end up at the wrong hospital. The Mahosot International hospital is nothing more than a Laotian state hospital. Nowadays it’s even called a clinic, but be prepared that you don’t step in with a comparison idea to a hospital in your own country.
From own experience in both 2001 and 2018, I can write the following information for the visitors of this site. You enter at the main entrance, which is meant to be the international poly clinic. The first impression is more a visit to a prison rather than a international hospital. By walking in, you have some counters on your right side. In front of you are seats for waiting and followed by a single desk. Nurses walk around, but the level of English they speak is at least surprisingly disappointing.
The nurse that helps you at the desk is at least smart enough to try to understand your hand sign language of pain or problem here or there on your body. She fills a form and sends you to the right specialist somewhere else on the big compound. In the best case she tells another patient to bring you with him, as he needs to be near the building that you have to go. Once you finally arrived at the correct place, you wait. But waiting in this kind of hospital means looking into other rooms, because of the lack of doors. So you are watching how other people get operated or being helped.
After you are checked, you are send back to the poly clinic. But on a big compound like this, there is a reasonable possibility to get lost. Even the signs with arrows are not clear. The groups of nurses that you meet on the compound is of no help either. Not a single one speaks English. Walking into one of the many buildings might bring you someone who understands where you have to be and will point you to some direction. You are on your own, so to say, while the only reason that you have to get back to the poly clinic, is to pay your check.
The check up can be called interesting. Walking in with a loud beep in your ear since three days combined with a huge pain in the lower left side of your head. You meet an English speaking specialist who has the age of having a 30 years of experience. He looks with his naked eye in your ear and says that you don’t have ear drum damage. Also not an infection and by the way, no brain abscess either. When you go with the same symptoms to a hospital at Quang Trung, Ho Chi Minh City, they look with a camera in your ear. Not in the international clinic of Vientiane. After getting a story about his European travels, the specialist writes down some medicines and sends you back to the poly clinic. The price to pay was 150.000 kip ($19).
The symptoms got down and were gone later. So he might have been right in his diagnose with the naked eye. A walk back to the front learns you that the prison idea from the start, becomes more and more of a reality with the metal doors of rooms and the bars attached to the windows. Some foreigners might call it awful in this clinic, but you can see it as an interesting experience too.