This article was written specifically for Good Portugal by public health specialist Mariia Melnikova.
For everyone who temporarily resides in Portugal with children, came for a vacation, or decided to relocate permanently, the most frightening and stressful situation is when a child needs urgent medical care.
In such a situation, the main thing is not to panic and to act clearly and quickly.
We offer you several ways to get quick medical help for your child in Portugal:
1) Call 112. The staff answers in Portuguese and English, but the waiting time can be long and with a long list of clarifying questions; the team will try to orient your appeal to the algorithm:
– sit at home;
– go to the doctor on your own;
– send paramedics to you – something like a medical cab, which will drive several hours;
– send an ambulance with a doctor – for sporadic and very severe life-threatening cases.
2) Going to the hospital with your child yourself (this is most often the case). On request “urgência pediátrica”, choose the nearest hospital with a children’s emergency room and go on your transport. Usually, there are pediatricians and nurses on duty 24 hours a day, with minimal tests and X-rays, if necessary.
The doctor will examine, listen, and prescribe medication. Almost everyone speaks English, and there are quite a few Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking doctors on duty.
Private and state hospitals do not differ much in the quality of doctors.
In the state hospital, care for children is free, and I would choose the state hospital for difficult situations – they are more reliable. For beauty and relative service, you can go to a fee-paying hospital.
The approach to the examination and treatment of children is different from what the inhabitants of post-Soviet countries are accustomed to:
– tests are prescribed extremely rarely;
– paracetamol is prescribed for almost all cases (or nothing at all);
– for non-emergency questions and examinations, they advise you to visit the family doctor.
But all necessary care will be given, according to current European standards, if a child has a dire situation (seizures, vomiting, dehydration, a fracture, a foreign body, etc.). For milder cases (scrapes, sunburn, mosquito bites, traveler’s diarrhea), it is better to have a minimal set of familiar medications at home.