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Before You Go
No jabs are mandatory to enter Ukraine, but the following are recommended:
- hepatitis A
- tick-borne encephalitis (if hiking in summer)
Ukraine has reciprocal agreements with most countries (not the UK), which in theory guarantee foreign citizens free emergency care. However, heading to Ukraine without medical insurance would be foolhardy indeed.
Pharmacists in Ukraine are the first port of call for many people suffering minor complaints, and they will usually perform a diagnosis if you can explain or point to the problem. It’s always a good idea to bring extra supplies of any medication you are taking and familiarise yourself with the Latin name if it’s not on the label. In Ukraine this is often written in the Roman alphabet alongside any medicine’s local name. Most common medicines are available, but it might be handy to bring at least some of the following:
- adhesive tape
- antibacterial ointment (for cuts and abrasions)
- antidiarrhoeal drugs (eg Loperamide)
- antihistamine (for hay fever and allergic reactions)
- anti-inflammatory drugs (eg Ibuprofen)
- aspirin or paracetamol
- bandages, gauze rolls
- DEET-based insect repellent for the skin
- tick removal kit
- eye drops
- insect spray containing pyrethrin, for clothing, tents and bed nets
- oral rehydration salts
- scissors, safety pins, tweezers
Availability & Cost of Health Care
Ukraine’s health system is under-resourced and decidedly primitive by Western European standards, so it’s important to come prepared. State hospitals and clinics are very basic affairs with limited supplies and facilities. Patients are expected to supply everything from food to syringes, and doctors expect (unofficial) payment for every stage of treatment. Avoid admittance to this type of hospital if you can by contacting American Medical Centers, where Western standards of care are maintained.
HIV & AIDS
- Ukraine is the site of Europe’s worst HIV epidemic.
- The country is thought to have 360,000 people living with HIV, far more than any other European state.
- The virus continues to spread faster here than elsewhere on the continent.
- The worst-hit areas are Crimea, Dnipro, Donetsk, Odesa, Mykolayiv and Kyiv.
- The message is clear: always practise safe sex.
Drinking tap water is not recommended anywhere in Ukraine. Bottled water is cheap and comes both still and fizzy.