- It’s a LOT more work traveling with a baby!
- Bring a lot of your own medicines and ask your doctor what to do in various circumstances.
- Yellow Fever vaccine cannot be given before age 6 months, and it is generally not given before age 9 months.
- Hepatitis A and Typhoid can’t be given before age 2
Putting the infant at risk for food and water-born illnesses. If your options are limited, you do your best to minimize risk — but, if your travel is optional (i.e vacation), please do your child a huge favor and leave them at home.
Immunizations are not the most important issue for a very young baby going to the tropics. The key health concerns are to do with protecting your child from infections that can get in via the mouth and from insect bites; ideally he or she should be exclusively breast-fed and must be protected from mosquitoes from dusk until dawn. The precautions you take to avoid night-time bites must be meticulous if you are in a rural area, since there is a risk of malaria.
With a baby, you can set up a safe mosquito-free area under a permethrin-impregnated cot-net; permethrin is a chemical compound that keeps mosquitoes at bay.
If he or she is out and about after dusk or is up around first light, cover all clothes and bare skin with a child-friendly insect repellent such as a natural mosquito guard. In addition, spray the bedroom with a knock-down insecticide then use pyrethroid vapour – pads of mosquito killer that are heated on an electric hot plate and repel flying insects for eight hours.
It would be wise for both mother and baby to have had their normal six-week check-ups before you travel – go early if you intend to fly sooner..
Do set out on your first trip before your child gets mobile – this usually happens at eight or nine months. From this age, until bribery becomes possible at around three years old, exotic travel is challenging and can be very tiring.
Some rules to travel by…
It goes without saying that all the vaccines in the world cannot eliminate certain health risks. Without being overprotective, you must be vigilant at all times when it comes to your children’s health. In the mostly warm and hot climate of Africa, dehydration is a constant danger for everyone, but even more so for children. It is absolutely imperative that you always carry sufficient supplies of safe drinking water with you. Don’t force your kids to eat if they’re not hungry or don’t like the unfamiliar food. But, under all circumstances, make certain they drink lots of fluids throughout the day.
Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on the safety of the water, not even when it’s bottled. If you have any second thoughts about the quality of your drinking water, apply your own purification measures. I personally prefer using a SteriPEN, Steripen Classic Battery Powered Handheld UV Water Purifier
But there are other ways that work just as well. Don’t ever let your kids use tap water, not even to brush their teeth with. Have drinks without ice. Explain to your kids why they must be extra cautious about water, but don’t assume they remember your warnings every time they are thirsty. If your kids get invited into someone’s home, make sure you know what they’re being offered in terms of food and drink. In case of doubt, it is better to violate the rules of hospitality than to get sick.
Have lots of antibacterial wipes handy for frequent cleaning of dirty or sticky fingers. Discuss the need for extra hygiene and cleanliness with your children and explain how they can guard themselves against potential health hazards. Discourage touching of mouths, eyes and noses as well as scratching of insect bites and other open wounds. But don’t get carried away! It is important that you strike a balance between caution and unnecessary fear. There is no point in scaring your children to the point where they can no longer enjoy their vacation.
Some interesting facts related to health from Africa Facts
1 in every 2 women and a third of men carry HIV/AIDS in Kasensero, a town in Uganda, the world’s most infected place
In Malawi more than one-in-ten people are infected with HIV.
As of 2011, HIV has infected at least 10% of the population in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi,Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland,Zambia & Zimbabwe.
In 2001, Botswana had the highest rate of HIV infection in the world (350,000 of its 1.6 million people). Now it is 37.5% of the population.
Over one million babies a year die the day they are born, and the 14 countries with the highest rates of 1st-day deaths are all in Africa.
Babies in sub- Saharan Africa are more than seven times as likely to die on the day they are born than babies in industrialised countries.
90% of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where malaria accounts for about one in six of all childhood deaths.
Malaria kills 655,000 people annually. 91% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where a child dies of malaria every minute.
Annual malaria deaths dropped from nearly a million in 2002 to 700000 now. Over a million lives were saved in Africa due to control programs
Where malaria is an issue…
Generally speaking, it is not recommended to bring young children to an area where malaria is widespread. Unfortunately, this is the case in many parts of the African continent today. Malaria may be less present in the higher terrains of East Africa and along the coastal regions of South Africa. You may consider visiting only those places.
Since the malaria virus is carried by mosquitoes, it is very important to protect your family as best as you can against mosquito bites. Only females can pass the virus on, but how can you tell which is which? Use child-friendly insect repellents only (no DEET!) and make sure everyone‘s safely tucked in under their mosquito nets at night.
Adults and older children should by all means take malaria preventive drugs, such as Chloroquine or Malarone. Sometimes, these drugs can have unpleasant side-effects, but you must continue taking them throughout your stay in potentially malaria infested areas and for some time after you return home. A doctor or nurse at any travel medicine institute can give you all the information you need. If you or your child develop a fever, you should not hesitate to seek medical attention right away. African doctors are very familiar with the local diseases and will be able to help you before things get out of hand.
One last thought: It may be a good idea to get a medical check-up for yourself and your family when you’re back home, even if everyone feels fine – just to be safe.