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What health issues should you be aware of when visiting Africa?

  • April 16, 2015
  • By Grace
What health issues should you be aware of when visiting Africa?

A trip to Africa represents an opportunity to discover a continent filled with magnificent sights and sounds, but before you go, there are a number of health issues to consider. There is certainly no need for alarm in respect of travel in Africa and how it could affect your health, but precautions are necessary in order to stay safe and healthy. There are a number of specific health concerns to be addressed prior to departing for Africa:


  • Travel vaccines: Consult with your physician on whether you need travel immunizations before departing. There are certain diseases uncommon to the US but endemic in much of Africa, one of which is yellow fever.
  • Malaria: You may be advised to bring anti-malarial medication. Pack a mosquito net if you intend staying in open-air accommodation, and pack insect repellent as well. Pants and pajamas with long sleeves are also good protection from insect bites.
  • HIV/AIDS: Avoid risky activities because HIV/AIDS are health issues of serious concern in many African countries.
  • Sunscreen: Africa’s geographical location, close to or on the equator, makes exposure to the sun and the potential for serious sunburn an issue.
  • Waterborne infections: The safety of the water supply in many parts of Africa is a serious concern. You should drink bottled, treated, or distilled water only. Bring oral rehydration and anti-diarrheal medications with you.


A major health issue affecting the African continent in recent times has been the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the west of the continent. There is a misconception, born to a considerable extent out of ignorance, that the entire African continent is affected, but the virus has been contained to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. If you were unfortunate enough to contract Ebola, you would have to have made direct contact with an infected person, alive or dead, according to experts. Ebola is not an airborne disease and if direct contact were made, experts have suggested a number of actions to take. These include heat, direct sunlight, soap and detergent, and chlorine disinfection. The Ebola outbreak serves to highlight to tourists the importance of identifying particular health risks and the regions to which they apply. It can never be emphasized enough how vast a continent Africa is, and a health concern in one region can be irrelevant elsewhere. Tourists need not be put off visiting Africa outside of the countries affected by Ebola, but at the same time, you should keep abreast of significant health risks and how they might affect you on your travels.

Africans themselves are taking a proactive role in the tackling of health issues as they affect the continent. Nigerian citizen Jennifer Douglas Abubakar is a shining example of health activism in Africa. Her foundation, Gede, is a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to the management and prevention of HIV/AIDS, with a particular emphasis on training and communication. A look at Jennifer Douglas Abubakar on Pinterest will give you a good idea of the type of work she is engaged in.

Prepare in advance for travel to Africa and all you have to think about is having a great time discovering this wonderful continent.


By Grace, April 16, 2015
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