Government advice states that Australians need to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Papua New Guinea. This frequently comes down to the violence that flares up in certain parts of the country and because of crimes, such as car-jacking, which tend to be focussed on overseas travellers. However, the country has much to offer visitors so long as they take sensible precautions. This includes medical matters which require some thought before you travel. What is the latest healthcare advice for those planning a trip to the country?
Never even consider travelling to Papua New Guinea without travel insurance that covers all of your potential medical bills if you need to be hospitalised for any reason. Anything short of comprehensive medical insurance is foolhardy because it won't cover repatriation costs if you need to return to Australia for medical care.
Check with a medical professional at least eight weeks prior to travelling to Papua New Guinea for which immunisations will be appropriate. Advice from the World Health Organisation changes from time-to-time on this matter, so make sure that you obtain the latest guidance. Health checks are really worthwhile before heading to the country because it may lead you to pick up on a condition early that makes you reconsider travelling at all. Outside of Port Moresby, the capital, medical facilities are basic at best, and even those which most foreigners use are well below the standard commonly found in the West.
Wear Insect Repellent
Insect repellent is highly recommended for all overseas visitors to Papua New Guinea at all times of the year. Not only is there the risk of malaria throughout the entire country, but dengue fever is also known to be a problem in certain areas. Furthermore, there have been reported incidents of the Zika virus, another mosquito-borne disease, in Papua New Guinea, and this includes some in the capital.
Know the Health Risks
Unfortunately, tuberculosis is a common disease in the country. Worse still, drug-resistant strains of TB have been detected in certain urban centres, including Port Moresby. Some cases of this form of tuberculosis—which does not respond well to modern treatments—have also been found in Western Province. Younger children and adults with medical conditions that impact negatively on their immune system are at greater risk of contracting this disease.
Finally, HIV/AIDS is a prevalent condition in Papua New Guinea so travellers should take sensible precautions against contracting this and any other form of sexually-transmitted disease.