Malawi Health Requirements

Father and daughter sitting on a rock by Lake Malawi.
A traveler's guide to health information for Malawi. Please note that these are only basic guidelines and visitors should consult your GP before and after your Malawi holiday to be certain of the facts, and what your specific health requirements are.

How do I get medical travel insurance?

When making your booking for Malawi, book travel and medical insurance with your travel advisor. They will usually know what to offer you for your destination in Malawi. Please note that some of the medical service providers do not accept insurance in Malawi, so have cash on hand. However, medical insurance is very important should you need medical evacuation.

What vaccinations or medications should I get before my trip to Malawi?

For your own safety make sure to get immunisation against polio, tetanus, rabies, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. If you leave a yellow fever zone to enter Malawi, make sure to get yellow fever immunisation. Malawi is a malaria risk area, so consult your doctor regarding this. If you want to swim in Lake Malawi, be aware that there is risk of contracting bilharzia, however the waters around many of the lodges are generally bilharzia free.

There is a possibility of contracting Trypanosomiasis (African sleeping sickness), which is contracted when bitten by the tsetse fly, which is common in the game parks in Malawi. There have been less cases of the disease in recent years. Because of the potential complications, confirmed cases are evacuated for treatment.

Is the water safe to drink?

It is recommended to drink bottled water, which is widely available. Drinking water from the tap is not advised, especially in the rural areas. If needed water can be boiled for at least 1 minute, filtered through paper or treated with iodine or chlorine.

What are the health and medical facilities like?

There are hospitals in the main towns, but the medical facilities are basic. If you are on set medication, make sure to bring enough with you for the duration of your trip. If you do need medical assistance, please note that cash payment will be required. Medical insurance with evacuation is advised. Please note that the closest advanced medical facilities are in South Africa.

What it Bilharzia ?

The disease is caused by microscopic parasitic worms which are carried by water-dwelling snails, for part of their life cycle, in fresh water areas. Bilharzia is easily treated (once off oral treatment) if found early. Complications can arise if left untreated.

What safety issues should I consider while travelling in Malawi?

Malawi is known as a friendly and safe country. Like any destination in the world, one must use common sense. Be aware, make copies of your travel documentation and lock it in the hotel safe. Keep your bags safe and keep your money in a money pouch. The odd street demonstration occurs and should be avoided if you are in the country at the time.The main types of crime include car theft, break-ins and petty street crime like robbery and pick-pocketing. As long as you are aware and take the necessary precautions, you should have an enjoyable holiday. Walking after dark at night is not advised. If you want to enjoy a few drinks and entertainment, rather use the bar/entertainment area at your hotel or lodge. If you want to report a crime, you can visit your embassy in the town and they will assist you.
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