Disease Risk and Treatment

Typical Concerns:
  • What types of diseases and infections do I need to be aware of? 
  • How do I prevent catching them? 
  • Malaria Prevention
Malaria is a parasitic infection which is always serious and can even be deadly. Malaria occurs when the parasite known as Plasmodium is transmitted into the blood stream via mosquito bit. Malaria kills millions of Africans annually and accounts for more than 40% of all Out-Patient Department (OPD) cases seen in Ghana. Unfortunately there is no vaccination against malaria, but several precautions may be taken.  
Prevention of malaria includes:  
-Taking your prescribed anti-malaria medication diligently. Medicine for malaria prevention includes Doxycycline, Mefloquine (Larium) Proguanil (Paludrine).
-The use of insecticide repellents, especially when outdoors and at night.
-Sleeping in insecticide-treated mosquito nets and ensuring that windows, doors etc in the homes have intact mosquito nets.
-Wearing long, protective clothing when possible.
Symptoms of Malaria will set in at least a week after you have been bitten. If you come down with a flu-like fever, body aches, headaches, chills, or sweats, then you need to seek immediate medical attention. 

  • Diarrheal Disease Prevention
The diarrheal diseases are acquired faeco-orally through infected food and water. Most are mild infections and are self contained. To prevent diarrheal diseases drink only commercially bottled water. Use portable water filters and iodine tablets to purify water where bottled water is unavailable. Make sure food is fully cooked, avoid eating food from street vendors, and avoid dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized. We recommend that you bring with you over-the-counter diarrhea medicine. 

  • Tuberculosis Prevention
Tuberculosis or TB is a common, infectious, and often deadly disease. It is spread through the air, when infected people cough or sneeze. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. Symptoms of TB include chest pain, coughing up blood, and fever. The BCG vaccine is commonly used to prevent TB; however it has not proven to be 100% effective. The good news is that the prevalence of TB is on the decline. However, should you experience any symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately.

  • Typhoid Fever Prevention
Typhoid fever is bacteria caused illness which can become life-threatening. It is generally contracted by drinking water or eating food which has been contaminated by infected feces. Typhoid fever has an incubation period of 6-30 days. The onset of the disease is a gradual progression of fatigue and fever resulting in headaches, sweats, diarrhea and rose-colored rash spots. The threat of this disease has waned with the improvement of sanitation treatment. However, when traveling to Ghana it is recommend that you received the Typhoid Vaccination for an added precaution. Practicing proper food safety is also imperative.
  • CSM Prevention 
Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) is transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes in your presence. This is a low risk to most areas of Ghana but has been a severe problem in the northern reaches of the county.  If you intend to travel to any of the three regions in Northern Ghana (Northern Region, Upper East and Upper West Regions) then you are required to vaccinate against CSM. Some typical symptoms of CSM may be high fever, severe headache and blotchy rash. This disease is very serious and life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated immediately

  • HIV Prevention
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases are worth preventing. The prevalence of HIV in Ghana is estimated to be 1.9%. The demographic with highest rate of HIV are those in the reproductive age. Prevalence is higher in women than in men with the highest risk groups being female and male sex workers. To prevent HIV in Ghana, the standard approach of A, B, C is used. Abstain from sex. Be faithful to your partner. And use a Condom. Always use a condom if you intend to participate in sexual activity while in Ghana.

  • Yellow Fever 
Like Malaria, Yellow Fever is transmitted through mosquito bite. The onset of the disease will occur about a week after the initial bite. Symptoms will include fever and vomiting and may even progress to the toxic phase where liver damage will produce jaundice and abdominal pain. There is a successful vaccination against Yellow fever which is required for entry into Ghana. Yellow fever is a relatively mild risk in Ghana, especially for those who have been vaccinated. Through you will be vaccinated; you should still take precautions against mosquito bites. 
  • Consider Joining WARA Before Traveling

The West African Rescue Association (WARA) advertises first world emergency and medical support services to its members.  Many major companies employing expatriates have enrolled their members.  You must be a WARA member before traveling or their services may not be available on an emergency basis. WARA Services

Helpful Resources:

Industry Specialists

Click to view organizations that offer assistance.

West African Rescue Association
Nyaho Medical Centre