Mosquitoes & Other Medical Matters
When it comes to your health in Vanuatu, there are three main concerns – mosquitoes, stomach upsets and infected cuts – luckily all are easily manageable.
Mosquitoes are found across the island in varying densities. You won’t see many around the resorts as most implement fogging programmes, but it may be different when you go out. It’s true that malaria and dengue fever are found in some places (more so in the outer islands, apparently) but the many foreigners who live in Vanuatu permanently do not take malaria medication or worry too much about these diseases. Wear loose, light coloured clothing, especially from dusk onwards, and use an insect repellent on bare skin (travel doctors recommend one containing DEET). If you’re particularly tasty to mosquitoes, carry a pair of long pants with you as you go about your adventures.
Upset stomachs can occur if you don’t have resistance to the local microorganisms. Many people jump to the conclusion that they have food poisoning but in fact you can pick up a stomach bug from any number of sources – shaking hands, touching things handled by others, enjoying your fresh market purchases, etc. Bring some Gastro Stop but only use it if you’re desperate as it can take days for your system to recover. The best remedy, believe it or not, is to eat half a teaspoon of pawpaw (papaya) seeds, ensuring you chew them. They taste quite peppery and not particularly pleasant so have something nice ready to chase it down. Many a guest at Turtle Bay Lodge has been stunned by the effectiveness of pawpaw seeds at curing an upset stomach. Green coconuts are a nice way to recover from an upset stomach but ensure they’re fresh and stored in the refrigerator.
Infections can set in extremely quickly so look after open cuts or grazes. Bring a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, preferably one with a dripper style opening. Drop some onto cuts regularly and keep all wounds covered. It’s particularly important not to let flies onto open wounds. Once your wound has healed to the point where the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t bubble you can stop treating it. If the wound is more serious seek medical assistance immediately.
There are several medical facilities in Luganville but most visitors prefer to attend the clinic staffed by Australian medical personnel, located behind the police station. Phone 36400.
In summary, bring the following for your first aid kit;
A light, loose-fitting pair of long pants
A light, loose-fitting long sleeved shirt