Before you go
Visitors to Zambia must take out a comprehensive medical insurance policy
to cover them for emergencies, including the cost of evacuation to another country within the region. Such policies come with an emergency number (often on a reverse-charge/call-collect basis). You would be wise to memorise this – or indelibly tattoo it in as many places as possible on your baggage.Personal effects insurance
is also a sensible precaution, but check the policy's fine print before you leave home. Often, in even the best policies, you will find a limit per item, or per claim – which can be well below the cost of a replacement. If you need to list your valuables separately, then do so comprehensively. Check that receipts are not required for claims if you do not have them, and that the excess that you have to pay on every claim is reasonable.
Annual travel policies can be excellent value if you travel a lot, and some of the larger credit-card companies offer excellent policies. However, often it is better to get your valuables named and insured for travel using your home contents insurance. These year-round policies will try harder to settle your claim fairly as they want your business in the long term.
Having a full set of immunisations takes time, normally at least six weeks, although visiting your doctor as late as a few days before you travel can offer some protection. Ideally, see your doctor early on to establish an inoculation timetable.
No immunisations are required by law for entry into Zambia, unless you are coming from an area where yellow fever is endemic (eg: Democratic Republic of Congo). In that case, a vaccination certificate is usually required. Zambia itself is not a yellow fever zone.
Preparations to ensure a healthy trip to Zambia require checks on your immunisation status: it is wise to be up-to-date on tetanus
(ten yearly) and diphtheria
(ten-yearly). Most travellers are advised to have hepatitis A immunisation with, for example, Havrix Monodose or Avaxim. The course comprises two injections given about a year apart (total cost about £100), and it protects for at least ten years. The newer typhoid
vaccines (eg: Typhim Vi) last for three years and are about 85% effective. They should be encouraged unless the traveller is leaving within a few days for a trip of a week or less when the vaccine would not be effective in time.
Cholera exists at a low level in Zambia, but outbreaks occur from time to time so it may be worth considering taking the oral cholera vaccine, Dukoral, which was launched in the UK in July 2004. It is particularly advised if you will be living and working in areas of particularly poor hygiene or if you have a chronic and potentially debilitating disease. For adults and children six years and over two doses are required at least one week and no more than six weeks apart. The second dose should be taken at least one week before entering an endemic area to ensure it is fully effective. Dukoral provides about 75% protection against most strains of cholera and lasts for two years. For children aged 2--5 years three doses of vaccine are needed and they last for only six months.
Vaccination against rabies
is unnecessary for most visitors, but would be wise for those who travel for extended periods (four weeks or longer), or stay in rural areas. Ideally three injections taken over a minimum of 21 days prior to travel are advised, but there is some benefit to be gained from even one injection if time is short.
Vaccination against hepatitis B
should be considered for anyone working in hospitals or other medical settings or who are working with children. It is also advised for people travelling for four weeks or longer where there may be an increased risk of needing urgent medical attention. Ideally three doses of vaccine should be taken prior to travel; they can be given as little as 21 days apart if time is short (Engerix B only).
Similarly consider vaccination against meningitis
ACWY if you are planning to work amongst children or are spending a long time in Zambia (six weeks or more). A single dose of vaccine covers against the commonest strains of meningococcal meningitis and lasts for three years.
Finally, don't forget vaccination against yellow fever
if you are planning an overland trip through other sub-Saharan countries where the disease is endemic.