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Before You Go: Traveler Healthcare in Ethiopia

Travel health insurance recommended

Ethiopia‘s medical facilities range from fairly basic in Addis Ababa, to very limited elsewhere. Check that you have a travel insurance policy that covers medical evacuation in case you may need specialized or prolonged treatment.

Drinking Water: Avoid drinking or brushing your teeth with tap water that hasn‘t been boiled, or ordering drinks with ice. You‘ll likely have access to bottled water.

Hygiene: Running water isn’t available in some of Ethiopia’s more remote regions. Pack some antiseptic wipes to use before eating or after using the toilet.

Yellow Fever: Yellow fever is a virus spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms of Yellow fever include nausea, fever, headaches, chills and muscle pain. If you’re visiting regions with Yellow fever, you should consult a doctor to get the Yellow fever vaccination. Yellow fever is not contagious.

Malaria: Travel in Ethiopia puts you at risk for malaria, especially if you will be visiting the wetter valleys like the southern Rift Valley or South Omo, or if you will be in the country during the rainy season.

Malaria is a parasitic infection caused by mosquito bites. Symptoms of malaria include fever, vomiting, headaches and fatigue. Malaria is not contagious.

If you’re visiting a region with malaria, be sure to consult with a doctor about taking anti-malaria tablets before you leave. You should also pack mosquito netting, full-coverage clothing and footwear, as well as mosquito repellent that contains at least 35% DEET. You may also want to stay indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

Typhoid: Typhoid is a bacterial illness you can get from contaminated food and beverages. Symptoms include a high fever, abdominal pain, weakness, headaches, constipation and a skin rash.

Be sure to consult with a doctor about considering a typhoid vaccination before you leave.

If you are traveling outside the capital or outside major hotels:



Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a virus you can get from contaminated food and beverages. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and joint pain.

Hepatitis A vaccinations are routinely given as part of the childhood immunization regime, but you should consult with your doctor to make sure you are properly protected before you go.

Polio: Polio is a virus you can get from contaminated food and beverages, as well as through saliva. Most people don’t show immediate symptoms, but those who do may experience a fever, sore throat, headaches, and muscle stiffness, pain or weakness in the neck, arms and legs.

Polio vaccinations are sometimes given as part of the childhood immunization regime, but you should consult with your doctor to make sure you are properly protected before you go.

Tetanus: Tetanus is an infection caused when bacteria in the soil, dust and manure enters through an open wound. Symptoms include muscle spasms, trouble swallowing, fever, sweating and headaches.

Tetanus vaccinations are routinely given as part of immunization regimes, but you should consult with your doctor to make sure you are properly protected before you go.

If you’re bringing prescription medications:
  1. Check to see if there are restrictions on your medication in your destination country, especially if the medication contains narcotics, amphetamines or other often controlled substances
  2. Bring medications in their original, labeled container. Never carry loose medication
  3. Include your dated prescription signed by your doctor, certifying the condition the medications are prescribed for, dosages and their generic drug names. Ensure the name on the prescription, container and your passport all match.
  4. If you need syringes or needles, your doctor includes their need on the prescription.
  5. Before you leave, find out how you can legally access medications in the case of loss, theft or emergency – even OTC medication may require documentation from your doctor. Never have controlled substances mailed to you
  6. If legal, consider bring a second container of any essential medications, in case one is lost or stolen. Pack the primary bottle in your carry on, and the second one in another location. Personal-use quantity restrictions may limit you to 30-or 90-day supplies
Travel Health Insurance Checklist:
  1. Investigate travel health insurance options
  2. Be sure the plan includes any pre-existing conditions you have, and be sure to declare them before you go
  3. See if you need an “Extreme Sports” add-on policy if you’re planning activities like scuba diving or spelunking
  4. Find out the payment or reimbursement process and 24-hour emergency coverage contact