Planning a Trip to Africa? Here’s Some Important Health Information
Africa is a destination that is gaining more popularity with every passing year. Tourism has developed considerably in certain areas of the continent, opening the gates for intrepid explorers to see some of the most unforgettable landscapes and wildlife in the world.
Countries such as Egypt and South Africa already have a thriving tourist industry (14.7 million people visited Egypt in 2010 alone), and countries such as Tanzania and Rwanda are now enticing travellers to visit, with an improved tourist infrastructure which offers a more comfortable way of seeing the country.
However, wherever you choose to adventure in Africa, it’s important to be aware of some health-related information before you leave.
Before Your Holiday: Vaccinations for Africa
Before travelling to any part of the African continent, it’s important to be up-to-date with a few key vaccines. These include:
- Hepatitis A (2 jabs needed for 25 year protection)
- Hepatitis B (3 jabs over the course of 3 weeks)
- Typhoid (required every 3 years)
- Rabies (3 doses during the course of one month)
- Tetanus / Diphtheria / Polio (every 10 years)
- Meningococcal Meningitis (1 jab required for 5 year protection)
- Yellow Fever (required every 10 years)
You’ll need to consult with your travel doctor to find out exactly what jabs you’ll require. Remember to book your appointment with the doctor several months before you travel, as some vaccines will require more than one dose to be effective.
Be aware that some African countries require you to have evidence that you’ve received your vaccination before entering the country. This is particularly the case for Yellow Fever. Other countries may require additional jabs, depending on the diseases in the area at the time.
Malaria in Africa?
If you’re travelling in the sub-Saharan region, it’s advisable to take anti-malarial medication. You’ll need to discuss with a travel doctor to ascertain whether you need to or not.
Concerned About Ebola?
Although travel is still permitted to countries suffering with outbreaks of Ebola, it’s important to exercise extreme vigilance when in the region, and to be aware of symptoms. Affected countries currently include Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Guinea and Sierra Leone. According to the CDC, the main precaution to take is to avoid contact with the body fluids of an Ebola sufferer, and to ‘avoid facilities’ where Ebola patients are being treated.
However, it’s important to realise that most parts of Africa are completely Ebola free and safe to travel within. If you’d like further information, refer to the NHS site.
As with many travel destinations, travellers in Africa can experience ‘traveller’s tummy’; symptoms of which include gastric discomfort and diarrhoea. The most effective way to avoid this is to only drink bottled water, and to use it to brush your teeth too.
Avoid salads and other raw food; and although they may look highly tempting, it’s also a good idea to give street-food sellers a miss too!
The sun can be very intense in several countries within Africa. As a result, it’s advisable to not only take a high SPF cream with you, but to also cover up wherever possible. A wide-brimmed hat can offer additional protection, and remember to drink plenty of fluids when you’re out exploring.