After three months of Ecuador life (which includes many meals eaten at neighbors' houses), I am proud to say that I have only caught one parasite (amoebas) and one stomach fungus! Exciting, yeah?? :) One of my community mates wasn't quite so lucky and currently has LICE. Yikes! I've spent many hours combing through her hair to pull out the little critters and tons of eggs. The worst part, you have to kill 'em...by squeezing them between your fingernails until they pop! Ah! But she should be clear soon! We're all going to get buggy things this year, though, so it's not a bug deal. Parasites and infections and critters will not defeat us! :)
Conveniently, there is a clinic within walking distance that can deliver test results in a day and write prescriptions to exterminate our little buggy friends. How much does it cost? For a medical consult, we pay $3. And for a parasite test? $2. Prescriptions are a little more expensive- it cost me $15 for three different medicines to get rid of the zoo in my belly. But even though it seems extremely cheap (we also have medical insurance that reimburses us), there are still many people who cannot afford the medical attention they need.
Something interesting related to health in Ecuador- there are a LOT of local remedies that we've been advised to try. When I came down with a cough, I was told to drink milk with garlic boiled in it (I wouldn't suggest it...although I did try it). A different friend fed me spoonfuls of fish oil (also not recommended). When my housemate was having trouble sleeping, we were told to blend pineapple and lettuce together and have her drink it (we never tried it). I was also told to leave a pineapple outside all night and then cut it up and feed it to her in the morning before she got out of bed...uh??? Not having a clue about medicine, I have no idea if there is any scientific backing to these methods, but who knows!