A good medical insurance policy, with an emergency air evacuation facility, is strongly advised as most medical facilities are poor. This can be obtained at any travel agency.
The whole of Mozambique is a year-round, high-risk malaria area. It is essential that you consult your doctor for the most appropriate prophylaxis. Infants and young children (especially those under the age of five years) are particular at risk of severe malaria disease, since malaria can develop and progress very rapidly. Since anti-malarial drugs may cause side effects, the seriousness of any side effect should always be weighed up against the risk.
It is best to avoid being bitten, by sleeping under a mosquito net and to apply mosquito repellent. Malaria is one of the most serious tropical diseases in the world. This disease can be fatal, if it is not diagnosed and treated at an early stage. The high risk malaria time is from October to May, especially during the rainy season in the summer.
- If possible, remain indoors between dusk and dawn
- Sleep under a mosquito net
- Don’t wear dark clothing, especially at night
- Wear clothing that covers most of the body after dark
- Use repellent on exposed body parts after dark
- Burn mosquito coils after dark
- Avoid marshy areas
- Protect your ankles; mosquitoes prefer that part of your body. Thick socks is not sufficient – use repellent also
The symptoms of malaria are similar to flu, e.g. headache, fever, muscular and joint pains, shivering attacks, sweating, diarrhoea, nausea, and fatigue. Malaria can still be contracted while using preventative medicine. Any person returning from a malaria risk area, who develops fever and flu like symptoms, should immediately consult a doctor and be tested for malaria. Blood test should be taken while feverish. If not found initially, further specimens should be examined before the infection is excluded. False negatives may be found on initial examination and additional test should be done if the condition persists. Malaria symptoms can still occur up to six months after leaving a malaria risk area.
Cholera is prominent in many areas in Mozambique, especially in highly populated slum areas found on the outskirts of the bigger towns.
Use water only from clean supplies. Water for drinking purposes can be boiled, or bottled mineral water can be bought. By adding a teaspoon of chlorine or Milton to your water most harmful bacteria and organisms will be killed.
Don’t buy shellfish in areas were diseases such as cholera exist, as the shellfish accumulate the bacteria in their gills through their filtering system.
First Aid Kit
It is advisable to take a small, but well-stocked, medical kit. Items such as: anti-malaria tablets, malaria test kit, malaria treatment course, insect repellent, plasters, bandages, lint, drawing ointment, antiseptic ointment and wipes, sunscreen, sunburn cream, antifungal cream, antihistamine cream for stings, anti-diarrhoea tablets, pain killers, analgesic ear drops, eye drops, oral dehydration powder, sterile syringes, cotton wool, tweezers, scissors, anti-inflammatory tablets, surgical spirits and Methiolate should be included.
Avoid getting stung by bluebottles or jellyfish which may be floating in the ocean or lying on the shore, particularly after or during strong onshore wind conditions.
If stung, apply surgical spirits then antihistamine cream (or meat tenderiser) to the affected area, after gently removing any tentacles that remain on your skin. Immersing the affected area in hot water (be careful not to cause scalding) will also bring relief. Stings from sea creatures like the stonefish or lion fish, must also be treated by immersion (and re-immersion) in water, as hot as the patient can bear. This breaks down the protein poisons.
Mozambique is left with the tragic legacy of many land mines, due to the 17 year-long civil war. A massive and thorough mine-clearing operation has swept main tar and gravel roads clear. They are now concentrating on minor roads in remote areas. Follow sensible precautions, like sticking to well-used roads and trails, and do not walk off into the bush to answer the call of nature, and you will have no problems. Areas known to be mined are marked with a red and white ‘skull and crossbones’ sign, or may be cordoned off with red tape and zonas minades signs. Always consult with locals about the possibility of minas, before venturing off into unfamiliar territory.
Serious crime is less of a problem than in South Africa, but petty theft, a direct result of the extreme poverty of the local inhabitants, is something which one has to guard against. Be particularly careful in crowded places and don’t leave valuable items or money lying around, especially in your car.
You are advised to take all cameras and film requirements with you. Refrain from taking pictures of uniformed officials or government buildings such as police stations and military installations. It is common courtesy to ask permission (Did Iicenca – may I) before taking someone’s photograph and in many cases a small gift, will be expected, in return.
The power supply is 220/240 volts AC, but the supply is not consistent and frequent power spikes occur, which is harmful to appliances such as microwave ovens.