We had been to the paediatrician a couple of days ago for the Little One's immunization shots. (DPT, Hep-B, Hib). The doc told us that there were two kinds of shots for this - a local one, costing Rs.850, and an imported one of Rs.2100. When asked what the difference was, he said that both served the same purpose, but the imported one was superior, and it resulted in less pain and fever.
Now, if it had been a material thing like a carry-cot or a pram, I could have inspected both and made an informed decison - that yes, the imported one is more comfortable and convenient, it is worth the extra money, or naaah, there is not too much difference between the two kinds, lets go in for the less expensive one.
But what could I do here but take the doc at his word? And after all, parents wants to give their child the best that is within their means, especially when it concerns health. So we opted for the imported, supposedly superior one.
I later asked an uncle of S, a well-known paediatrician (he stopped his practice a few years ago), and he said that yes, the imported vaccine truly has lesser side effects. If we had known earlier that we would be given a choice of vaccines, I would have discussed it with this uncle earlier, and we could have taken a confident, informed decision, rather than one based on sentiments. ;)
[And yes, the Little One hardly had any fever, and I doubt if she had much pain either. But she has been a little fussy since her shots, crying at the drop of a hat, but that's supposed to be normal.]
This episode set me thinking.
1) Forget the imported vaccine, but Rs.850 for the local one? Isn't that very expensive in itself? How many people in India can afford that? Does the government offer free immunization at government hospitals, or a subsidized version for the poorer section of the society? Does anybody know anything about this?
2) No wonder pharma companies have a gala time pricing their products exorbitantly. We the consumers have no idea about the products whatsoever, and when it comes to health, we are helpless, we just have to buy the products. Is there any hope for a transparent system where we know what we are buying, and how much it ought to cost? [Even as I write this, I say to myself, "Ha! High Hopes!"]
3) I realize that parents have this weakness - when it concerns the child, we tend to become blind, and spend any amount of money on the child. Manufacturers have identified this very weakness and have made excellent use of it. Have you seen how expensive baby stuff is? 800 rupees for a teeny tiny frock!! One I can make at home in less than 50 rupees?? One which the baby will outgrow in a month? What kind of madness is that? Even with all that knowledge, I look at the frock, imagine the Little One in it and think, "Ohhhh she'll look so cute in it!" We are getting fleeced.