Maintaining your Health. The most important health precautions you can take are to
- Screen the house and sleep under nets
- Wear shoes
- Boil your water
- Eat healthy food
While you are with us you will find that we practice these things and all of these will be provided for you. While traveling in Africa drink only bottled water at hotels, spray your rooms if there are mosquitoes or other insects. It is very important to take whatever precautions you can to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, as this is how malaria is spread. Some hotels are air conditioned and bug tight, while others will simply provide nets. It is a good idea to buy a can of insect spray upon arriving (you cannot travel with it in an airplane) so when you discover you have mosquitoes in your room at midnight you are prepared. The accommodations that we recommend have a history of serving healthy food and having bottled water available. If at any point you feel that these very basic health precautions are not being observed – complain or take action to improve the situation. By following these simple precautions, you will have avoided many problems before they start.Special Health Needs. Bring all the prescription drugs you will need (to be extra safe, bring 2 full prescriptions – twice what you know you will need — in their original containers) and a copy of your written prescriptions as well. Make sure to keep them with you. If your luggage gets lost you do not want your medications to be lost. The medical treatment situation in Kigoma is problematic. There is a mission hospital that can provide some care about a 2 1⁄2 hour trip by Landrover. The nearest adequate hospital approaching “USA style” medicine will be in Nairobi (a 4 hour flight in a light airplane or a 4 day drive). Excellent medical care will be available in South Africa (12 hour flying time in a light airplane, or 3 1⁄2 hour commercial flight from Dar es Salaam). If you are diabetic or have other health considerations we will do everything we can to accommodate your needs. Don’t hesitate to ask. Many with special health concerns have safely and happily made this trip with such health considerations. The most important things is getting and staying prepared.Food & Water. Contaminated food and drink are the major sources of stomach or intestinal illness while traveling. Intestinal problems due to poor sanitation are found in far greater numbers outside the U.S. and other industrialized nations. Don’t buy the cheapest meals! Don’t eat food from street vendors. In Dar es Salaam go to a good 3 to 5 star hotel to eat. Or prepare your own food at the mission guest house. In Kigoma our staff is training on healthful meal preparation. After all, we have survived for over 23 years on the food and water in Africa. So don’t worry too much! You will eat fine.
- Water. In areas with poor sanitation only the following beverages may be safe to drink: boiled water, hot beverages, such as coffee or tea, made with boiled water, and canned or bottled carbonated beverages. Ice may be made from unsafe water and should be avoided. It is safer to drink from a can or bottle of beverage than to drink from a container that was not known to be clean and dry. However, water on the surface of a beverage can or bottle may also be contaminated. Therefore, the area of a can or bottle that will touch the mouth should be wiped clean and dry. Where water is contaminated, travelers should not brush their teeth with tap water. In an emergency, use water out of the hot water tap (the hot water heater will have killed many of the “bugs”).
- Treatment of Water. Boiling is the most reliable method to make water safe to drink. Bring water to a vigorous boil, then allow it to cool; do not add ice. At high altitudes allow water to boil vigorously for a few minutes or use chemical disinfectants. Adding a pinch of salt or pouring water from one container to another will improve the taste.Chemical disinfecting can be achieved with either iodine or chlorine, with iodine providing greater disinfecting in a wider set of circumstances. For disinfecting with iodine use either tincture of iodine or tetraglycine hydroperiodide tablets, such as, Globaline*, Potable-Aqua*, and others.Bottled water is readily available everywhere in Tanzania. It is of good quality and is safe. Use it. In the Joy facilities drinking water is boiled and filtered before use so it is very safe. For your comfort, it is always a good idea to travel with a bottle of drinking water on the airplanes. It is very important that you have plenty of drinking water at all times to prevent dehydration in the tropics.
- Food. Food should always be selected with care. Be careful when eating any raw food, as it could be contaminated, particularly foods in areas of poor sanitation. Foods of particular concern include: Salads, uncooked vegetables and fruit, unpasteurized milk and milk products, raw meat, and shellfish. If you peel fruit yourself, it is generally safe. Food that has been cooked and is still hot is generally safe. For infants less that 6 months of age, breast feed or give powdered commercial formula prepared with boiled water. Some fish are not guaranteed safe even when cooked because of the presence of toxins in their flesh. Tropical reef fish, red snapper, amberjack, grouper, and sea bass can occasionally be toxic at unpredictable times if they are caught on tropical reefs rather than open ocean. The barracuda and puffer fish are often toxic, and should generally not be eaten. Highest risk areas include the islands of the West Indies, and the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans. Some people have gotten a little sick eating shrimp in Dar es Salaam. The fish from Lake Tanganyika have been eaten by guests for years and no one that we know of has gotten the least bit ill from it. Food warnings tend to make people paranoid, but it is not as bad as some make it out to be. By simply using good common sense, most problems can be avoided. There is access to good food almost everywhere you will be traveling if you pay attention. A little thought and planning while you travel solves the problem. While visiting Joy in the Harvest we will make sure you get plenty of good food to eat.
Traveler’s Diarrhea. The typical symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea (TD) are diarrhea, nausea, bloating, urgency, and malaise. TD usually lasts from 3 to 7 days. It is rarely life threatening. Areas of high risk include the developing countries of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. The risk of infection varies by type of eating establishment the traveler visits – from low risk in private homes, to high risk for food from street vendors. Consider packing basic over-the-counter diarrhea medication just-incase.