Map of Eritrea
Location and geography
Border conflict with Ethiopia
Economy & currency
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Mendefera (Adi Ugri)
Semenawi Bahri (Filfil)
Health care in Eritrea
Eritrea has a very healthy climate, especially in the Highland areas.
Some would say that Asmara has an ideal climate, very similar to the
Mediterranean or California. However, the Lowlands, especially along
the coast, can be very hot and humid, particularly in the summer months of
June - September. Visitors should take a good sun protection cream, a
hat and sun-glasses with them.
Dehydration can hit very quickly, especially in the very hot lowland coastal areas
(Massawa, Dahlak Islands, Assab). Drink plenty of water in a timely manner. It is
essential to take a big bottle of mineral water on every trip outside Asmara. The
water supply in major towns is treated and filtered; yet it should be boiled
before drinking. Local and imported bottled mineral water is widely available.
Ask for mai or mai gas (carbonated water).
Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, bread, milk are widely available in Eritrea,
cheap and of very good quality. But health experts advise: "Peel it,
cook it, boil it, or forget it." Fruit you have washed and peeled
yourself and hot food should be safe, but raw food, cold cooked food and salads
and ice-cream are all risky.
Drugstore in Massawa.
Visitors should bring a supply of any necessary drugs (Paracetamol,
anti-malaria tablets and Loperamide for acute diarrhoea) and prescriptions.
It is wise to take some basic medical requirement with you (medical kit, containing sunscreen, insect repellent, antiseptic, dressings and several sachets of oral rehydration solution (ORS)).
Medical services are adequate throughout the country. However, modern
facilities are not always available and supplies can be irregular. Chemists
and drugstores can be found in larger towns. The Central Hospital Makane Hiwet
in Asmara, is the most extensive and best equipped. Private doctors and clinics
are also available. Sembel dental and polyclinics are housed in the
Sembel Residential Complex.
Both AIDS and venereal diseases certainly exist in Eritrea. The country
was not isolated from the outside world in the same way as it was in other
respects. Ethiopian soldiers have been the main cause for the transmission
of these diseases.
Appeal for safe sex.
Your doctor or travel medicine specialist should be provided with details of
your travel plans at least two months before departure to determine if any immunizations
or preventive medications are required. It is important to inform
the doctor if you are pregnant, have an existing medical condition, have
undergone recent surgery, plan to travel with children or plan to be away for an
extended period of time as these factors will influence your requirements.
Yellow fever vaccinations are required for all travelers entering Eritrea
from infected area.
It is also advisable to have vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, polio
(DTP), hepatitis A, typhoid and
meningitis. If your stay will be longer than a few weeks and/or in cases of
sexual activity vaccination against hepatitis B is advised.
Malaria is endemic on the coastal plain, in the western lowlands and around
Keren (anywhere less then 2000m above sea level), particularly during the
rain season. Protection against mosquito bites should be taken if traveling in the
lowlands. There is no malaria risk in Asmara.
St. George Clinic - Waliku (Keren) Eritrea.
NOTE: Take some extra Paracetamol or other pain-killer with you when traveling
to Eritrea. A lot of people cannot afford medicine. It is an excellent gift if
you want to surprise friends or want to reward a service.
What is Dengue?
Dengue is a tropical illness that starts in one of your joints and is
then followed by a fever and measles-like rash. The illness usually clears
up after a few days. A person can only be infected if he's bitten by a
mosquito infected with the dengue-virus. Dengue cannot be
transmitted from person to person.
Where is dengue prevalent?
Dengue is prevalent in all tropical areas, particularly during and
after monsoon periods. The likelihood of being infected is greater in
heavily populated cities. There is no dengue risk at altitudes over 2000m
What are the symptoms?
There will usually be a period of three to eight days
between the time you are infected via a mosquito bite and the first
manifestation of the symptoms of the illness. These symptoms are:
- A sudden and severe fever.
- Acute frontal headache and pain behind the eyes (that
becomes more pronounced as you move your eyes).
- Muscle and joint aches.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- A measles-like rash on the chest and arms.
The treatment is symptomatic, which means it is not the
cause that is addressed, but the symptoms. S-called salicylic medications
such as aspirin and ascal should be avoided because these will increase
the likelihood of bleeding. Paracetamol, on the other hand, is suitable.
Is Dengue dangerous?
Dengue can be dangerous. An initial infection by
the dengue-virus usually runs its course without complications, but the
symptoms are more serious with a second infection. In addition to
suffering from nosebleeds, small, local bleeding can occur under the skin
and this will be recognizable as small red points on your feet, legs,
armpits and the roof of the mouth. In the worst case, the patient can go
into a shock and even die. However, the good news is that if it is treated
early enough, the chances of a complete recovery are good.
What is Malaria?
Malaria, or swamp fever, is a tropical disease
transmitted by a mosquito that has been infected by biting someone that
already has malaria. When the mosquito then bites other people, it injects
parasites into the blood stream and these parasites multiply making the
victim feel 'unwell'. There are different strains of malaria and these are
transmitted by different types of parasites. Malaria, which is derived
from the Italian word malaria, meaning 'bad air', is particularly
prevalent in warm, swampy areas is
Where is malaria prevalent?
Malaria, which is derived from the Italian word malaria,
meaning 'bad air', is particularly prevalent in warm, swampy areas. There is no
malaria risk at altitudes over 2000m (6500ft f.e Asmara).
In spite of all possible preventive measures you can
still be confronted with an attack of malaria for up to half a year after
your stay in the tropics. It is therefore important you remain vigilant
for the following symptoms after your return:
- A flue-like feeling with muscle and joint aches
followed by a high fever; and all without there being a clear reason
for it. The fever, which might return with a certain regularity,
need not always be spectacularly high.
- Trembling, profuse sweating, headaches, and feeling
'poorly'. Other symptoms, which can divert attention from malaria,
include vomiting, diarrhoea and/or stomach-ache. If you experience any
of these complaints, consult a doctor and make it clear you have been
to a tropical area.
How can you avoid infection?
If dengue or malaria are prevalent, you can reduce
the likelihood of infection by taking a number of precautionary,
- Take preventive medicines (Malaria only).
- Keep (bed) rooms mosquito-free. Mosquitoes prefer dark
areas and they don't like air-conditioning. If it is available than use it.
- If possible, use mosquito netting. Tuck it in firmly under
the mattress, and of course check for holes and make sure there is no
mosquitoes already inside it.
- If there are already mosquitoes inside the bedroom, spray
with insect killer an hour before retiring.
- Between sunrise and sunset - particularly during the early
morning hours and late afternoon - wear clothes that cover most of your
body: long trousers, shirts or t-shirts with long sleeves, gloves and socks.
- Stay away from lakes, rivers and swamps after sunset.
- Areas of skin that remain uncovered should be smeared with
a mosquito repellent stick or lotion containing 'deet'.
When using 'deet' bear the following advice in mind:
- Never use deet in a concentration higher than 30%. This is
particularly important for children younger than two years old and pregnant
women in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- Only apply it to the exposed areas of skin and avoid
smearing too much in. Depending on personal factors such as heavy
perspiration, deet will have a maximum working life of four hours.
- Avoid contact with the eyes, lips, and irritated (f.e.
- To ensure they do not rub it into their mouths or eyes,
never apply deet to children's hands.
What is Travellers' diarrhoea?
An estimated 20-50 per cent of travellers suffer from stomach upsets caused by poor personal hygiene or by eating and drinking food and fluids contaminated with bacteria, viruses or worms.
Travellers' diarrhoea is transmitted by risky foods like raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, raw fruits and vegetables. Tap water, ice, and unpasteurized milk and dairy products are also associated with increased risk of
What are the symptoms?
Travellers' diarrhoea is a condition characterized
by a marked increase in the frequency of unformed bowel movements and is commonly accompanied by abdominal cramps, urgency, nausea, bloating, vomiting, fever, and malaise. and should therefore be taken seriously.
Most cases of diarrhoea are self-limiting and require only simple replacement of fluids and salts lost in diarrhoeal stools.
- Increase your intake of mineral water.
- Use Oral Rehydration Salts (O.R.S.) if they are available.
- Flat Coca Cola is usually helpful.
- Take a light diet - weak tea, bilberry juice, boiled rice,
bananas and rusk or plain biscuits. Avoid alcohol and
- Try and change your itinerary so that you can stay close to
- Watch for any change in your health which might suggest
that the diarrhoea is becoming more serious.
You can easily prepare O.R.S. yourself by dissolving 20
grams of sugar (four lumps) and two grams of kitchen salt (one teaspoon) in half
a liter mineral water.
Antimotility agents like Loperamide come in convenient dosage forms and provide prompt symptomatic but temporary relief of uncomplicated
travellers' diarrhoea by inhibiting intestinal
movements. Avoid taking Loperamide if you have blood or mucus in your