Health & Medical in South Africa
Here is some useful information about the South African Health & Medical facilities, to help you get an idea of what to expect and how to prepare before you travel.
Cape Town in particular, is a first world run province, with high end drinking water and food. It has world class private medical facilities should anything happen. Remember to get comprehensive medial insurance though. HIV/AIDS is a big problem but can easily be avoided. Malaria can happen in warmer summer months in rural or game park areas such as the Kruger Park. Otherwise, come and enjoy our world class food, wine, accommodations and my photo tours and walks
Medical facilities are good in urban areas but can be limited elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment.
While many things in South Africa can be very cheap for travelings from abroad, medical isn’t one of them. Thus, comprehensive health insurance is recommended to cover the fees of private facilities.
Private medical facilities require a deposit before admitting patients. Pharmacies are well-stocked, but you should carry an adequate supply of prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription
South African as a whole has a very clean and healthy and drinkable water system. Drinking water from the taps is safe but if you prefer there is bottled mineral water available in all shops.
Milk is pasteurized and dairy products are safe for consumption, as are local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables.
Food is of a very high standard in most restaurants, shopping malls and hotels.
Diarrhea remains the most common cause of ill health in travelers, with South Africa graded as an intermediate risk country. The standard of food safety and preparation is generally good and poses little threat to your health, but sensitive travelers should take care to avoid it.
Sunburn is a much more common risk, with the African sun being far fiercer than most people realize. Please apply sunscreen whenever possible, even if you are only going on a tour for 2 hours. Depending on your skin type a 20-30spf should keep you out of harms way.
I always recommend people wear hats or caps, when on my photo tours, in order to prevent sunburn and even heat-stroke. People coming form colder climates usually suffer the most with the transition and heat.
No vaccinations are required in city areas. Malaria tablets are recommended for game parks
Vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended if you are going into rural areas
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that causes HIV-related disease and the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The virus enters the bloodstream and eventually destroys the body’s immune system by killing the so-called “defender cell” (CD4 cells).
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome can be described as the end stage of HIV infection in which the body’s immune system is too weak to fight certain infections, known as opportunistic infections, e.g. TB, pneumonia and fungal infections.
- How is HIV transmitted?
Unprotected sexual contact
Contact with infected blood (e.g. sharing infected needles)
Childbirth (mother to child transmission)
- How is HIV not transmitted?
Eating food prepared by someone who is HIV positive
Sharing cutlery and crockery
Sharing an apartment with someone who is HIV positive
Dry kissing, sneezing, coughing, tears or saliva;
Mosquitoes or bedbugs
Sex workers are extremely high HIV risks. Don’t go there!
Always wear a condom
Protect yourself if you help an injured and bleeding person
- Tuberculosis (TB)
Very prominent in rural areas, especially infecting those with HIV/AIDS
Avoid swimming and paddling in stagnant or slow-moving water as there is a low risk of contracting bilharzia, and a risk of catching E.coli.
Mountain water can be safe to drink, but should be avoided just in case
Cholera is spread by contaminated food or water and occurs in some rural areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, where it can be picked up from swimming in contaminated streams. Urban city areas of The Western Cape and Cape Town, do not have these problems
Swimming pools that are well chlorinated and maintained are safe.