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Sleep apnea therapy in less developed countries
#1
Yesterday I went to my dentist in Tijuana to get a couple crowns replaced. I had extra time between dentist visits that I used trying to buy masks and other things, hopefully cheaper than in the US. I had already done as much research as I could before leaving, and while there had the use of local phone books and telephones to find more resources.

Fisher and Paykel built a large facility to manufacture respiratory equipment a little over a year ago. I really wanted to visit the factory, especially as I am very interested in their new Pilairo, which is not yet available in the US. A call to their factory revealed that they do not allow customers on the premises, whether end users or DMEs. They do sell to US DME customers, but all those sales are handled by their Irvine, CA office, which is where the output from the factory is shipped.

As for DMEs, there are none in Tijuana, or apparently anywhere in Mexico. The system is very different from the US. There are sleep doctors who perform sleep studies, but after diagnosis the doctor sells the equipment directly. Thus there is no need for the DME at all.

Sleep apnea is not covered by the the basic national health plan, although it may be covered by some state health plans (but not Baja California Norte). There is a second layer of national health that provides additional benefits to employed people, but apparently it does not cover sleep apnea either. Private health insurance doesn't really exist. Consider as well that MN$40 an hour is a really good wage (about US$3). That's not much if you have to pay for your sleep apnea therapy out of pocket.

As a result, in all of Tijuana (pop. 1.3 million) I was able to find only two sleep doctors, who operate a sleep clinic together. I went to the clinic hoping to find some masks to buy, but they sold only three masks; one a nasal pillow mask, another that was a regular nasal mask, and one full-face mask, at a price of about $70 each. Those are your choices if you have sleep apnea in Tijuana, unless you buy online or go up to San Diego. And online or San Diego suppliers will require a prescription from a US doctor. Also, I showed the people at the clinic my box of Provent tabs and they had never seen them. They also sell CPAP machines, but the prices were roughly the same as our online suppliers. During my visit I talked to the staff, not the actual doctors.

So I came back without any new sleep apnea stuff. All I brought back was a sadness for the state of sleep apnea therapy in Mexico. Now I'm curious about how it works in other underdeveloped places.

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#2
It doesn't. When the citizens are more concerned about food and clean water, plugging in a CPAP is way low on the priority list. And the over-worked and underpaid doctors who work with the poor, sleep apnea is way way down the priority list again.
PaulaO2
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#3
(06-07-2012, 12:12 PM)JJJ Wrote: They also sell CPAP machines, but the prices were roughly the same as our online suppliers.
Even in Tijuana the prices less than half of the prices charged in Australia

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#4
JJJ,

You are a brave man going to TJ!

When I was in college at UCSD we went down there all the time to party but when the TJ police chiefs started getting knocked off about 10 years ago it was no longer safe to go there. We just bought our fish tacos in pacific beach instead!
"Goodnight Chesty wherever you are!"
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#5
(06-07-2012, 10:29 PM)pssnn Wrote: You are a brave man going to TJ!
When I was in college at UCSD we went down there all the time to party but when the TJ police chiefs started getting knocked off about 10 years ago it was no longer safe to go there. We just bought our fish tacos in pacific beach instead!

It's fine during the day. And the violence is 99% drug related. I was off the street when it got dark and I didn't go there to party.
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