For many, taking a trip to Africa is a once-in-a-lifetime trip full of adventure and exotic sights. Because of the wild, remote and limited nature of Africa it is highly recommended that anyone taking a trip to the continent undergo some pre-trip medical check-ups.
Vaccinations, prescription meds and basic hygiene and check-ups are crucial to an African getaway. Before you head out for a safari or cultural visit, take the time to get the required medical processes for you health and safety.
Where Are You Going in Africa?
Africa is huge. It is not just one “blanket” area. There are a variety of different ecosystems and each has its own medical issues. For example, if you are planning a trip to the Saharan region of the continent, you need to research such things as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, skin diseases and insect-borne diseases. In this region of Africa, the major cities — like Laayoune, Dhakla and Smara — have modern medical facilities including well stocked pharmacies. Get out into the backcountry and the medical facilities are almost non-existent.
Keep this in mind and bring along all prescription meds, including an emergency seven day supply should you be detained or transportation be cancelled. Obviously, you need to bring excess sun-screen, hats with brims and long-sleeve shirts to protect from the intense and harmful UV rays of the sun.
This is the region where extreme medical caution must be taken. There are deadly viruses that have no known medical treatments. To combat these diseases, you must understand how they are transmitted and how to avoid them.Deadly diseases like Ebola and HIV originated in this area. When traveling through this area, avoid those who show signs and symptoms of such diseases. Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids, and is easily avoided by simply shying away from contaminated areas.
Go to your family doctor prior to a visit to this area of Africa. Tell your doctor exactly what countries and ecosystems you plan to visit.Ask for ant-malarials, and begin the prophylactic oral prescription before you even step one foot into Africa. Doctors also have access to updated medical alerts and know precisely what vaccinations to administer for your upcoming visit.
As a general rule, you need anti-malarials, vaccines for hepatitis, and a good immune booster for visits to Kenya, Tanzania, and countries of East Africa. For many visitors to this area, trips up Mt. Kilimanjaro are part of the docket. If this is part of your trip, talk with your doctor about high-altitude sickness and how to pick out the symptoms.Prepare not only by visiting your doctor, but by instituting an exercise and fitness program. Talk with your doctor and have a check-up prior to beginning the fitness regimen. Bring prescriptions for any existing medical condition, and ask your doctor for something to treat intestinal distress and stomach diseases that occur as a result of contaminated water or food.
Like Equatorial Africa, tell your doctor the precise countries and regions you plan to visit so the doctor may check the updated vaccine charts and administer the proper prophylactic procedures.
Like Equatorial Africa, this part of the continent is home to nasty diseases, some that are insect transmitted and some through bodily fluids. Begin an anti-malarial prophylactic procedure prior to departure and make sure you are vaccinated for any diseases that are experiencing outbreaks in the area you plan to visit.
General Medical Travel Tips
In any part of Africa, with the exception of cities in South Africa, consider tap water taboo. Seek out bottled and sealed water, and never drink a cocktail with ice cubes. If you are eating fresh produce, make sure it has been washed in water with a few drops of bleach. This kills any cholera or bacterial contaminants, keeping you safer.
Wear long-sleeve shirts and hats with wide brims. Keep sunscreen of at least +45 on any exposed skin at all times. Do not discount how powerful the Africa sun is. Wear long-sleeved shirts when possible.
If you begin to feel sick, and are within reasonable distance of quality medical facilities, do not delay. For many tropical diseases, the sooner they are caught, the better. In many cases, if they are caught in the early stages, there are prophylactic treatments that kill off the infection or
When traveling into regions with venomous snakes or insects, make sure someone in your party has the needed anti-venon. This is typically carried by any safari guide or adventure tour leader. Always ask the guide where it is, and have them show you how to use it.
Stay safe, have fun and be adventurous. Africa is a land full of wilderness and animals that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Don’t let the fear of disease keep you out of the continent. With some preparations prior to the trip, your Africa adventure will be happy, healthy and safe.One sure way of having reasonable medical expenses when traveling to Africa is by carrying travel insurance with you. It’s important to know the in’s and out’s of travelers insurance and what it pays for. Like the old “American Express” commercials used to say, “don’t leave home without it”.
When traveling in Africa, travel insurance should be considered a necessity and not a luxury.