With the threat of Ebola imminent, travellers are becoming more and more concerned with getting ill while travelling, and the places they travel to.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the most severely affected countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability. Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General, declared this outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” on August 8, noting that there have now been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. Many of the Westerners effected by Ebola have recovered thanks to better healthcare. So where are the worst places to get sick while traveling?
WHO has ranked the worst healthcare systems on the planet and Africa has the highest number of countries in that ranking. Due to the recent Ebola virus anyone travelling from Africa should monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus which kills, on average, 50 per cent of people who contract the disease.
Although WHO ranks Burma (Myanmar) as the worst place to fall ill, African countries such as the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria come in a close second. Liberia, Malawi and Mozambique are also healthcare systems to be avoided.
Cambodia, a popular tourist destination, is among the top 20 destinations to avoid due to their failing healthcare. Limited resources, poor facilities and a higher number of infectious diseases are all factors in poor health care for tourists.
America has a shocking insurance scheme that could leave you dramatically out of pocket should you get sick in the states. The United Kingdom has a reciprocation arrangement with Australia so that anyone who may fall ill while there is able to be treated under the same public health care Britons receive. A detailed list of information on doctors and accredited hospitals abroad can be found in the Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists and ensures you will be treated by a qualified and experienced doctor.
According to The Travel Doctor, a staggering one in two Australians get sick while overseas, losing at least two days of their trip. The countries Australians are most likely to get sick in are India, Vietnam and Thailand, with diarrhoea being the leading sickness.
Many travellers admitted to being not very aware when it came to basic preventive measures. Almost half of those 3000 Australians surveyed said they’d had ice in their drink, brushed their teeth with tap water or eaten raw or uncooked food. Over 50 per cent were also bitten by mosquitoes while travelling.
There are simple ways to avoid getting sick while travelling. The Travel Doctor recommends a few basic measures to take to stay healthy while travelling.
Get any pre-travel vaccines in advance. India for example is somewhere you are more than likely to get sick, with over half of the travellers succumbing to “Dehli Belly”.
Make sure to:
– Regularly take any medication your doctor prescribes you while you are away.
– Use condoms. STIs are rife and lots of travellers pick up one if having unprotected sex. Make sure you wear a condom and take any other necessary pregnancy preventative precautions.
– Avoid insect bites. Dengue and malaria are both mosquito borne diseases so use insect repellent and mosquito nets.
– Take care with what you’re eating. Wash your hands before meals and avoid drinking tap water. Use bottled water (and check the seal is intact!) to brush your teeth and be careful in the shower.
– Stay away from animals. As cute as they may look, many dogs in developing countries can have rabies.
– Bring a medical kit with the basics. Band-aids, Gastrostop, painkillers and anything else that could help you if you get unwell or injured.
Worried about getting sick overseas? Take our advice – get some good insurance! – Benedicte Earl
Top photo from Josh McGinn’s Flickr photostream.