There is no malaria or rabies in Fiji. Health facilities are good; however, this is a small country with a limited budget, so ‘good’ does not necessarily compare with the facilities of a well-developed country.
The overall risk of illness for a normally healthy person is low; the most common problems are diarrhoeal upsets, viral sore throats and ear and skin infections – all of which can mainly be treated with self-medication. For serious symptoms, eg sustained fever, chest or abdominal pains, it is best to go to the nearest clinic or doctor.
Dengue fever is a virus spread by the bite of a day-biting mosquito. It causes a feverish illness with headache and severe muscle pains similar to those experienced with a bad, prolonged attack of influenza. Another name for the disease is ‘break-bone fever’ and that’s what it feels like. Danger signs include prolonged vomiting, blood in the vomit and a blotchy rash. There is no preventive vaccine, and mosquito bites should be avoided whenever possible. Dengue fever requires medical care.
There are no compulsory vaccinations needed for Fiji. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination. Most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, so visit your physician at least six weeks before departure. A recent influenza vaccination is always a good idea when travelling, as are vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid fever.
If you have been in a country affected by yellow fever within six days of arriving in Fiji, you will need an International Certificate of Vaccination for yellow fever to be allowed entry into the country.
Fiji has readily available doctors in private practice and standard hospital and laboratory facilities with consultants. Private dentists, opticians and pharmacists are also available. The further you get from the main cities, the more basic the services.
Private consultations start from around $30. Fees for government-provided services vary from modest to negligible, but waiting times can be very long. Direct payment is required everywhere except where a specific arrangement is made, eg in the case of evacuation or where a prolonged hospital stay is necessary; you will need to contact your insurer.
Most commonly used medications are available. Private pharmacies are not allowed by law to dispense listed drugs without a prescription from a locally registered practitioner, but many will do so for travellers if shown the container or a prescription from home.
The municipal water supply in Suva, Nadi and other large towns is chlorinated and can usually be trusted, but elsewhere avoid untreated tap water. After heavy rain it’s worth boiling the water before you drink it.