Africa is a continent which touches the soul and captures the imagination. Riding camels in the desert, spotting gorillas in the rainforest, seeing a pride of lions stalking across the Serengeti; Africa is a wildlife lover’s dream destination and on many people’s travel bucket lists, so don’t let a pre-existing medical condition stop you from visiting this diverse and developing continent.
Africa is a country that gets under your skin. It’s a country of extremes, with each of the 54 diverse countries that call this continent home giving you a different experience of ‘Africa’. Immense natural beauty, unique wildlife encounters, and distinct cultures and communities, are what Africa has to offer. However, it can also be a challenging continent, hosting some of the most dangerous destinations on the planet, and with many of its inhabitants living in the difficult situations.
While Africa may have its difficulties, it still offers some of the most rewarding travel experiences, and with some careful planning and preparation, travelling to Africa with a medical condition shouldn’t be avoided. We have some travel tips for visiting Africa with a medical condition, including things to consider before you plan your trip, and the best destinations to visit.
When you are planning your trip to Africa it’s important to stay up to date with current Foreign Office travel advice. Africa is a continent in constant flux, and it’s essential that you know where you should and shouldn’t travel. See the Foreign Office travel advice website for update to date travel information. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
For traveller’s visiting Africa with a pre-existing medical condition it’s also essential to visit your local medical practitioner at least eight weeks before you travel to discuss any medical requirements that may be needed for your destination.
There are a number of vaccinations that are required for travelling Africa so speak to your GP or nurse. Ensure you know where you plan to travel, what you plan to do, and if you plan to visit more remote areas as this will impact on what vaccinations you may need. For example, mixing with locals in poor, overcrowded conditions raises your chances of contracting diphtheria, and rabies is only necessary if you are travelling to remote areas. Also as Africa is a developing country it is important to ensure that you have your MMR booster up to date.
When visiting your health practitioner it is also good opportunity to ensure that you have filled out your prescriptions for the duration of your trip and to bring a double supply in case there is a delay or your medication is lost or stolen. You should also take into consideration any documentation you may need to carry in order to take your medication with you on your flight. A signed, dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is recommended. Pack medications in their original, clearly labelled containers. See our advice page on travelling with prescriptions for a more detailed list of what you will need to do in advance of your trip.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease transmitted by the bite of a mosquito carrying the disease. For almost all travel to Africa malaria is a risk. Discuss anti-malarial tablets with your GP or nurse, and also ensure you have adequate Malaria precautions including insect repellent, long sleeves and trousers for the evenings, and a mosquito net for sleeping under if not provided by your hotel or accommodation.
Dengue Fever is also a disease carried by mosquitos, and it is prevalent in many areas of Africa. By following these precautions and preventative methods to avoid mosquito bites you are also protecting yourself against Dengue Fever.
Health issues and the quality of medical facilities differ enormously depending on where you travel in Africa, but hospitals in general are of a much lower standard in comparison to elsewhere in the world, due to overcrowding, under-funding and poor facilities.
As a traveller with a pre-existing medical condition it’s a good idea to take into account the destinations that have the best access to good hospitals should you require them. For many travellers, knowing that you have easily accessible and high quality healthcare is a pre-requisite for planning your holiday, and this is even more important for travellers with pre-existing health conditions.
South Africa and Egypt have the best hospitals in Africa, while Kenya, Uganda and Ghana also have hospitals which offer good standards of healthcare. For a detailed profile of the countries in Africa, look at the British Foreign Office Travel Health website:http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country-information/
When travelling with a medical condition it is important that you understand the limitations of your condition, in regards to what could trigger certain symptoms or reactions. This should be discussed with your doctor or nurse who will be able to provide you with personal advice on your individual condition.
If you are planning on visiting an area with high altitudes for people with Diabetes, Asthma, Epilepsy, Heart conditions, Lung conditions and Sickle cell disease this is a factor to be taken into account as altitude can have a significant effect on these conditions. If you feel that this could affect you, or you suffer from one of these conditions and are planning travelling in these areas, speak to your doctor well in advance of planning or preparing for your trip
Similarly travelling to isolated areas, such as deserts, rainforests or on a remote safari, should be avoided or carefully considered before booking. Speak to the tour company you are planning on going with and let them know about your condition. Understand how far it is to the nearest hospital, should you need to go, and what their safety procedure is should something happen.
If you are planning on visiting in Africa, our single trip or annual ERV Medi-Care Worldwide policy will provide you with support and service should you require it. ERV has one of the most comprehensive assistance networks and our pre-approved medical facilities for all of our customers will help to put travellers’ minds at ease.
ERV Medi-Care can provide you with affordable, worldwide travel insurance. We cover over 200 conditions automatically at no additional cost. You can find out more about those on our Automatically Approved Medical Conditions list. If your conditions aren’t automatically accepted, ERV Medi-Care offer a simple process to assess your needs either online or by talking them through with one of our customer service team over the phone.
If you’re planning a trip to Africa and are looking for travel insurance for those with a pre-existing medical, call us on 01403 788510 and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.
Very helpful, good communication kept me up to date on progress. Really good customer service which is just what you need when under pressure of illness. "
ERV Customer - April 2018