We (Nick & Vicki) have just spent 1 year travelling overland in a Land Rover in Africa and wanted to share with you our medical and health care tips.
Hygiene & Basics
Two overriding issues you have to think about are clean drinking water and basic body hygiene. Bugs love Africa!!! We used a charcoal / ceramic water filter and filtered all water we consumed orally. We never got seriously ill and only had a couple episodes of "50:50" number 2 action. We also washed our hands and tried to have flannel washes when water was low or no showers were handy (that's quite often in Africa). Bottom line, keep clean and drink clean water and you minimise a lot of problems. Also, if you cut yourself, clean it and treat it quickly with Savlon or Savlon spray. Cover up feet, ankles and arms in the evening. We only used DEET on our clothing and tried to avoid spraying it on our skin. Injections
We also had all our jabs done well in advance - we had approx' 7 visits to the local clinic in the UK. Visit your GP and chat with the nurse. They have access to MASTA and can advise what you need based on your route. You will need Yellow fever certificate and a list of the jabs you have had, it does get asked for in Africa, esp. Nigeria!!
We took the Lonely Planet pocket health book.....VERY good buy and it helps give you a second opinion if you are a solo traveller. Its small enough to pack in a bike too. We looked at this a lot!!
What medical kit did we take?
We have listed the main items we took. They were packable into 3 small bags (pictured). We kept a basic kit in the front cab and the smaller medical kits were kept in the shade / cool part of the vehicle. We kept our malaria pills, text kits in the fridge. We have tried to indicate the frequency of usage too as a rough guide.
Doxycyclin tablets Malaria prophylaxis - used daily
Malarone tablets Malaria treatment (4 Tablets in one dose for 3 days) - not used
Canesten / Clotrimazole cream Topical cream for vaginal / skin fungal infections - used
Vagisil cream Treatment for vaginal irritation - not used
ASPAR / Hayleve antihistamine tablets Treatments for hay fever & allergies - used
Hydrocortisone / Eurax Topical cream for non infected itchy skin rashes - used
Mycil / Daktarin cream & Daktarin Powder Anti fungal treatment for athlete’s foot - used
Chloramphenicol antibiotic ointment Infected eyes / bacterial conjunctivitis treatment - not used
Safyr Bleu Eye irritation liquid drop treatment - used
Savlon Pavidone spray Treatment of skin wounds, abrasions - used this a lot!
Sodium Chloride solution ampules Washing of small wounds - used
Cetrimide / Germolene / Savlon antiseptic creams Treatment of minor cuts - used this a lot
Calamine cream Treatment of sunburn & windburn - used
Ibuprofen tablets Musculo skeletal pain relief / anti-inflammatory - used a lot
Paracetamol tablets General pain relief / headaches - used
Lemsip powders Treatment for flu - used
Friars Balsam liquid, Sudafed tablets, Strepsil sweets Treatments of colds / cold decongestion - used the latter
Senokot tablets (laxative) Treatment for constipation - not used
Normalone / Imodium tablets Antidiarrhoel treatment - used once
Electrolade powders sachets Rehydration treatment - used several times
Haemorrhoid suppositories Treatment of hemorrhoids / pain relief - used once
Bisodol (tablets) Antacid treatment - used
Aquatabs tablets Emergency water treatment - not used
DEET - used sparingly and generally on clothing
NOMAD Sterile kits x 3 - used some items from these kits
Dental kit x1 - never used
Malaria near Patient Test Kits - used once for another person
Compeed blister pack x1 - used once
Tapes (various) - used• Antiseptic wipes (various) - used
Latex gloves (various) - used
Rehydration spoons x2 - used once
Plasters, bandages & burn dressings (Various) - used
Wound dressings (various) - used
Steri-strip wound closures (various) - not used
Tweezers - used• Scissors x2 - used
Thermometer - used• Safety pins - used
Emergency foil blankets x2 - not used
Emergency glow sticks x2 - not used
Blood donor cards - reference only BUT good to know your blood group
What conditions did we get?
On the whole we only had minor complaints that were easily treatable:
Thrush, blisters, sunburn, athletes foot, headaches, dehydration, flu, 1x skin infection from mossie bite, a few boils, 1x hemorrhoid (old age). We both suffered from sun sensitivity from using Doxycyclin tablets. This was worse at the equator.
What extra medicine did we need?
We bought some Cyprofloxicin (for treating skin infections) in Mali. Easily obtainable and good for treating infected bites and boils.
Nick & Vicki
Stonehenge to Cape Town 2010/11