Health requirements when traveling to South Africa
Traveling to a foreign country invariably leaves anyone with questions about what is required of you medically
South Africa has a rather well-developed healthcare system. There are public hospitals throughout the country, but as in many other countries, you’ll probably get quicker care at a private hospital. Be sure to buy adequate medical insurance before leaving home. Well-qualified doctors, dentists and other specialists can be found in the main centres but you will have to make an appointment to see one quite long in advance, unless it’s an emergency.
Malaria: While most of South Africa is a malaria-free area, this mosquito-borne disease is prevalent throughout the year in the Kruger National Park and the low-lying areas of northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Please consult with your doctor or a travel clinic about a suitable prophylactic. Your choice of precaution will depend on how long you are visiting the malarial area, the time of year and your personal health.
As always the old adage ‘prevention is the best cure’ also holds true. Use repellent and cover up at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes are most active by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, closed shoes and socks, if possible. Walking around in a “Darth Vader” look-alike suit is definitely not necessary though… You also don’t have to bring it all with you – shops throughout the country carry stock of the neseccary.
If you are after a wildlife experience, there are many malaria-free game reserves, such as Madikwe or Pilanesberg in North West province, the Waterberg in Limpopo, or private reserves in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape, where you can also have a brilliant wildlife experience. Contact us for options, particularly if you are travelling with children aged six and under or are pregnant.
TRAVEL TIP: If you develop a bad headache, have aching joints, and recurring fevers and chills after your trip, advise your doctor that you have been in a malaria area and insist to be tested. Malaria symptoms can sometimes be confused with flu symptoms.
HIV/Aids: While Southern Africa has a high prevalence of HIV/Aids, your only real risk of contracting this syndrome is if you have unprotected sex with an infected individual. There should be no reason for unprotected sex as condoms are freely available in pharmacies and convenience stores. Antiretroviral drugs are issued free to rape victims at South African hospitals. Should you be the victim of a sexual assault, it’s essential that you get prophylactic treatment for HIV/Aids within 72 hours.
Personal medication: There are numerous pharmacies throughout South Africa, and many everyday medications, such as painkillers, are available over the counter.
If you have a specific pre-existing medical condition, it’s wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a suitable replacement, even if the trade name differs in South Africa.
Also bear in mind that should you plan to visit, or have visited an area with a risk of Yellow Fever transmission, you will need a Yellow Fever vaccination before visiting South Africa in order to be allowed into the country.
For more information on Health related issues, please visit www.iamat.org