It is very important to get the latest up-to-date information and advise for the countries you plan to visit from your physician or from a specialist in tropical illnesses and diseases.
You should start planning your vaccinations & immunisation well in advance of starting your trip. There are two vaccinations that are compulsory in some African countries and for which you will need to have an International Certificate to gain entry, These are Cholera and Yellow Fever. You should also consider having certain vaccinations as a matter of course and also being vaccinated against specific diseases. Malaria is probably Africa’s No. 1 most widely spread disease and in most regions of Africa you should take protective measures. Although it is not possible to protect yourself totally you can reduce the risk of getting a serious infection. It is advisable you take some form of prophylactic drugs (get the latest advise from your doctor/ pharmacist or a Tropical Diseases Hospital), cover yourself up between dusk and dawn, use a mosquito repellent and mosquito net and stay away from still water and dark damp places. Malaria can take from 7 days to several months to incubate and the symptoms range from headaches, pain and flu-likes aches to sometimes experiencing disorientation and high temperatures. You should seek medical advise immediately if you develop any of these symptoms. If you are not able to reach medical help immediately, doctors recommend you self treat with Quinine without delay and see a doctor as soon as possible. Malaria will hit you more seriously if you are recovering from another illness or are weak and malnourished. Mosquitoes build up a resistance to various forms of anti-malarial drugs – so please seek latest advice from your travel clinic. If you develop any symptoms that could be Malaria, after you return home, always remember to mention to your physician that you have travelled in a Malaria Zone.
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If you are travelling overland and to remote regions a small medical kit could be a life saver. The contents should include Malaria tablets (obtain advise from your doctor/pharmacist), soluble aspirin, a course of antibiotics, re-hydration salts, plasters and bandages, potassium permanganate crystals, water purification tablets and other drying antiseptic, iodine and sunblock cream. Scissors, tweezers, a thermometer, and a torch are also essential items.
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If you need medical care whilst in Africa, it is best to be aware that medical providers do not accept payment through your insurance company. In these circumstances you will have to pay in full after your treatment and file a claim with your insurance company for reimbursement. Therefore you should have access to cash, either from a credit card or by wire transfer. If you need assistance contact the country’s local embassy or representative. To be compensated you must be treated by licensed medical personnel and provide your insurance company with proper documentation and receipts. It is advisable to always ensure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy which covers you for repatriation to your home country.
This insurance is focused on what is really important, medical & emergency evacuation although it also covers other areas such as your baggage, cancellation costs, dental and liability depending on your country of residence.
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