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Before You Go

Recommended Vaccinations

The World Health Organization (www.who.int/en/) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as for hepatitis B, regardless of their destination. The consequences of these diseases can be severe, and outbreaks do occur.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), the following vaccinations are recommended for Sudan: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid, and boosters for tetanus and diphtheria.

While a yellow-fever-vaccination certificate is not officially required to enter Sudan, unless you are entering from a yellow-fever-infected area, carrying one is advised.

Malaria is present throughout Sudan; the risk is higher in the south and varies according to season.

Health Insurance

Medical insurance is crucial for travel in Sudan, but policies differ. Check that the policy includes all the activities you want to do. Some specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ such as diving or trekking. Also find out whether your insurance will make payments directly to providers or will reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures (in Sudan many doctors expect payment in cash).

Ensure that your travel insurance will cover the emergency transport required to get you to a hospital in a major city, to better medical facilities elsewhere in Africa, or all the way home, by air and with a medical attendant if necessary. If you need medical help, your insurance company might be able to help locate the nearest hospital or clinic, or you can ask at your hotel. In an emergency, contact your embassy or consulate.

If you're diving, it's a good idea to take out specific diving cover, which will pay for evacuation to a recompression facility and the cost of hyperbaric treatment in a chamber. Divers Alert Network (DAN; www.diversalertnetwork.org) offers a DAN TravelAssist Policy that provides evacuation and recompression coverage.

In Sudan

Availability & Cost of Health Care

If you become seriously ill, seek treatment in Khartoum. If you fall ill in an unfamiliar area, ask staff at a top-end hotel or resident expatriates where the best nearby medical facilities are. In an emergency contact your embassy.

For routine complaints such as traveller's diarrhoea, clinics are widespread. In smaller places, you can normally get treated by a competent, English-speaking doctor or nurse and leave with the necessary medication.

Well-stocked pharmacies are found in major towns. It’s best to bring whatever you think you may need from home, including malaria pills and a malaria test kit. Always check the expiry date before buying medications, especially in smaller towns.

There’s a high risk of contracting HIV from infected blood if you receive a blood transfusion in the region. The BloodCare Foundation (www.bloodcare.org.uk) is a useful source of safe, screened blood, which can be transported to any part of the world within 24 hours.

For Western standards, expect to pay Western prices.

Environmental Hazards

Heat Exhaustion

One of the biggest hazards in Sudan, and the one taken least seriously by travellers, is the sun. Heat exhaustion occurs following heavy sweating and excessive fluid loss with inadequate replacement of fluids and salt, and is particularly common in hot climates when taking unaccustomed exercise before full acclimatisation. Symptoms include headache, dizziness and tiredness. Dehydration is already happening by the time you feel thirsty – aim to drink sufficient water to produce pale, diluted urine. Self-treatment is by fluid replacement with water and/or fruit juice, and cooling by cold water and fans. The treatment of the salt-loss component consists of consuming salty fluids such as soup, and adding a little more table salt to foods than usual.

Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is a precursor to the much more serious condition of heatstroke. In this case there is damage to the sweating mechanism, with an excessive rise in body temperature; irrational and hyperactive behaviour; and eventually loss of consciousness and death. Rapid cooling by spraying the body with water and fanning is ideal. Emergency fluid and electrolyte replacement is usually also required by intravenous drip.

Tap Water

Don’t drink tap water in Sudan unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (such as with iodine tablets). Don’t drink from streams, rivers and lakes. It’s also best to avoid drinking from pumps, boreholes and wells; some bring pure water to the surface, but the presence of animals can contaminate supplies. Bottled water is widely available, except in very remote areas, where you should carry a filter or purification tablets.