The Safari Experts
medical facilities

Medical facilities in Africa


Let us first note that it is essential that international travellers have suitable medical cover in their travel insurance to cover for evacuation, treatment and repatriation.

Generally speaking the medical facilities in Africa are much more rudimentary and more sparsely distributed than in other parts of the world.

Large modern hospitals which offer the highest standards of care can be found in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other parts of South Africa, Windhoek in Namibia, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya. It is to these hospitals that international visitors with serious complaints will usually be evacuated.

Most other towns and cities, especially where there is a significant international community, should also have good and reliable medical facilities, although naturally without the full range of capabilities and expertise of the large hospitals.

In rural areas medical facilities are likely to be much more rudimentary. However if you do find yourself having to use one of these places, for whatever reason, then you can reassure yourself that these places tend to be very experienced in dealing with the kinds of sickness which are most commonly encountered in Africa, such as malaria and giardia. Another example is the hospital in Moshi, which although being relatively small and simple, is one of the leading facilities for the treatment of altitude sickness, thanks to its position at the foot of Kilimanjaro.

In all cases medical care and any associated evacuation is privately provided and needs to be paid for. Be sure that you have suitable proof of insurance on you at all times.

Drug stores ...

There are pharmacies virtually all towns and cities, many of which are very well stocked with medical supplies. Even in more rural areas village stores often carry a surprisingly good range of stock.

In many areas drugs which are controlled in other parts of the world are available without prescription.

Although we have no experience of it ourselves, we have heard that many of the drugs stored may be of inferior quality, being cheap Chinese manufactured imitations of registered drugs.

Our advice, as always, is to travel with a well stocked medical kit in order to reduce the chances of needing a local pharmacy, not least because visiting one can often necessitate having to go a long way out of your way.

It is also worth noting that most lodges, especially the more remote safari camps, usually carry significant stocks emergency medical supplies.

Refrigeration ...

People often ask us whether it is possible to travel with drugs that require refrigeration. The short answer is that in most locations this should be possible, so long as the drugs can be carried in a cool-box when travelling between camps.

You need to take advice from your doctor on this, but if you can bring a suitable flask with you then that will help. We are usually able to ensure that safari vehicles have a working cool-box, whether that be refrigerated or simply an ice-box. Almost all safari lodges have refrigeration these days, but we would need to check with each one to make sure that their systems are sufficiently reliable.

The best thing to do is to find out the temperature specifications for the medicines in question and let us know during the earliest stages of trip building.

Disclaimer : Please note that all of the information on this page and elsewhere in the health section of our website is provided for information only. We suggest that you always refer to a health professional when seeking medical advice.
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