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221

Health

CONTENTS

Before You Go

221

Insurance 221 Recommended Vaccinations Medical Checklist Internet Resources Further Reading

In Transit

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Jet Lag & Motion Sickness

In Afghanistan

Availability & Cost of Health Care Traveller’s Diarrhoea Infectious Diseases

Environmental Hazards Women’s Health

221 222 222 222

222

222 223

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223 223 223 225 226

Prevention is the key to staying healthy while travelling in Afghanistan. With luck, the worst complaint you might come down with on your trip is a bad stomach; while serious infectious diseases can and do occur in Afghanistan, these are usually associated with poor living conditions and can be avoided with a few precautions.

BEFORE YOU GO

tional Association for Medical Advice to Travellers

(IAMAT; www.iamat.org). Their website can help travellers to find a doctor with recognised training. Those heading off to very remote areas (particularly for work) may find a first-aid course useful.

Bring medications in their original, clearly labelled, containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describ- ing your medical conditions and medica- tions, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to have a physician’s letter docu-

Health matters often get left to the last minute before travelling. A little planning is advis- able, however – some vaccines don’t ensure immunity for two weeks, so visit a doctor four to eight weeks before departure. Travellers can register with the Interna-

menting their medical necessity. See your dentist before a long trip; carry a spare pair of contact lenses and glasses (and take your optical prescription with you).

INSURANCE

Adequate health insurance is vital when travelling to Afghanistan. Check in advance that your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures – doctors in Afghanistan expect payment on the spot. Your policy should ideally also cover emer- gency air-evacuation home, which may be essential for serious problems. For more on insurance issues regarding Afghanistan as a conflict zone see p205 .

RECOMMENDED VACCINATIONS

Specialised travel-medicine clinics are your best source of information; they stock all available vaccines and will be able to give specific recommendations for you and your trip. Ask your doctor for an Interna- tional Certificate of Vaccination (otherwise known as the yellow booklet), which will list all the vaccinations you’ve received. Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory if arriving from a country where the disease is endemic. The World Health Organization also recommends the following vaccina- tions for travellers to Afghanistan:

Adult Diphtheria & Tetanus Single booster recom-

mended if none in the previous 10 years. Side effects include sore arm and fever. Hepatitis A Provides almost 100% protection for up to a year; a booster after 12 months provides at least another 20 years’ protection. Mild side effects such as headache and sore arm occur in 5% to 10% of people. Hepatitis B Now considered routine for most travel- lers. Usually given as three shots over six months, a rapid schedule is also available, as is a combined vaccination with Hepatitis A. Side effects are mild and uncommon, usually headache and sore arm. In 95% of people lifetime protection results. Measles, Mumps & Rubella Two doses required unless you have had the diseases. Occasionally a rash and flulike illness can develop a week after receiving the vaccine. Many young adults require a booster. Polio Only one booster is required as an adult for lifetime protection.

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