As part of sub-Saharan Africa, The Gambia is home to some tropical diseases that travellers need to be aware of – malaria being the best well known. It's wise to keep your immunisations up to date. Visit a travel clinic in your home town before flying to The Gambia.
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Before You Go
Make sure you have adequate insurance before you hit the road. Read the fine print of your policy, and ensure that your coverage includes evacuation in the event of an emergency.
A yellow fever vaccination is recommended, and you may need to show proof of vaccination to be allowed entry into the country if coming from a country where yellow fever is present (including Senegal).
Other vaccinations that are recommended include the following:
- hepatitis A
- hepatitis B
- meningococcal meningitis
- boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and measles
In The Gambia
Availability & Cost of Healthcare
Even at the best clinics, medical care is below the standard of health care in Europe and North America. Costs are also lower; though if you need serious medical care and require transfer to another to a facility outside the country, costs can be substantial.
Malaria is not to be taken lightly. Travellers to The Gambia should take an antimalarial medication to avoid contracting this serious disease.
Mosquitoes here are chloroquine-resistant, so the prophylaxis of choice should be Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline or mefloquine.
Antimalarials aside, here are some other tips to avoiding illness:
- Sleep in screened rooms; use mosquito nets when available.
- Cover up: From 30 minutes before dusk through the nighttime, wear pants and long sleeves, and use insect repellent on exposed flesh.
- Seek medical advice if you have a fever or flulike symptoms within a year of travel to The Gambia.
Water is not considered safe to drink in The Gambia. It's best to boil, filter or chemically treat water (ie with iodine tablets) before drinking. Bottled water is widely available – though the environmental impact of all the discarded plastic is considerable.