The Safari Experts
medical kits

Medical kits for travel in Africa


Not so many years ago we would always travel through Africa with a large and well-equipped medical kit.

But in recent years the quality of local medical facilities and availability of drugs has improved enormously. Many of the lodges also now carry quite a stock of medicines and communications have improved to such an extent that it has become much easier to locate medicines in an emergency.

People have very differing attitudes towards medical kits. Here at ATR some of us travel fully equipped, whilst others barely give it thought beyond vaccinations and malaria pills.

One of the key issues is that if you are planning to travel hand luggage only, then all of this can add up to quite a bulky item. But many of the items are small or can be repackaged into smaller volumes. Repackaging of tablets is usually strongly advised against for obvious reasons. Be sure to retain all the instruction leaflets.

Here is a reasonably comprehensive list of items which you might like to include in your personal medical kit ...

*** usually essential
** optional, we often to take with us
* optional, we tend not to take with us

Documentation ...

proof of insurance***
blood type certificate** ... and any other relevant health information in case of emergency
certification of vaccinations*** ... especially yellow fever, which is required at many customs points

Items to prevent malaria ...

anti-malaria pills*** ... refer to the section on malaria
permethrin treated mosquito nets* ... not needed on trips booked with us as all lodges provide these
insect body spray repellent*** ... preferably containing active ingredient DEET
insect spray for room* ... optional as most lodges provide, can usually buy locally if needed
plug-in repellent burners for room* ... can be useful for nights in town hotels
coil type repellent burners for room* ... sometimes provided by lodge

Maintenance and repair of mosquito nets ...

gaffer tape**
sewing kit**
ball of string**
thumb tacks**
permethrin spray for bed nets* ... many people will consider this to be a step too far

Medical equipment ...

penknife** ... but only if you have hold luggage in which you can store it whilst flying
pointed tweezers** ... for removing caterpillar hairs, thorns, splinters, coral etc.
tick tweezers** ... unlikely you will need, but such a small item and worth having back home too
nail clippers**
digital thermometer**
plastic bags** ... for waterproof packing

anti-septic wipes**
anti-septic** ... liquids such as iodine or potassium permanganate are preferable to cream in tropical areas
sticking plasters** ... breathable
wound closure strips**
wound dressings**
surgical tape**
blister kit* ... if you are planning to do a lot of walking or wear unsuitable footwear
joint supports* ... only if you think you might need them

Medicines ...

lip balm**
bite cream**
painkillers** ... aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen
anti-fungal cream* ... such as Canesten
diarrhoea prevention** ... such as Immodium (Loperamide), but use in emergency only, can be very dangerous
diarrhoea treatment** ... such as Tinadazole for treatment of giardia and amoebic dysentery
antibiotics** ... such as Ciprofloxacin or Norfloxacin for severe diarrhoea, may be prescription only
oral rehydration salts*
water purification filter equipment* ... iodine or chlorine, not needed when travelling with us
eye drops* ... preferably antibiotic
cold cure sachets*

prescription medicines* ... anything you happen to be taking and need to bring along.

Refer to medical facilities for information on healthcare facilities and the availability of drugs and medicines locally. Also if you intend to carry medicines which need refrigeration.

Refer to related section packing lists.

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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