Thailand Islands - Travel Health


Thailand Islands - Travel Health

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Health in Thailand has been dramatically transformed for the local population over recent years. With the implementation of the 8th National Economic and Social Development Plan from 1997 to 2001, the Government overhauled the health service by providing good health information for all its citizens, implementing safety procedures at work, promoting disease prevention, increasing entitlement to health insurance and introducing universal health care from October 2001 at 30 baht per hospital visit.

For travellers and people on holidays, Thailand is a relatively safe country to travel through both in terms of health and low crime levels. Before arriving in Thailand, travellers should visit their
doctor at lease six to eigth weeks before travelling to see if any vaccinations are required for the areas that they will visit.

The main health issues to consider when travelling through Thailand are insect borne diseases, food and water safety, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV / Aids, protection from the sun and possible air pollution in heavily built up areas or cities such as Bangkok. The following basic preventative measures can help ensure a relatively safe and disease free holiday.

To prevent illnesses from water or food, ensure that only bottle water is drunk or water that has been boiled. Ensure that food is piping hot and cooked all the way through and avoid undercooked foods such as vegetables or meat. Milk products and salads can also carry bacteria if not prepared well. For any diarrhea which lasts for more than a couple of days, medical advice should be sought.

There are a variety of insect borne diseases present in Thailand with dengue fever and malaria being the most common. Fortunately most southern Thailand tourist beaches and islands are free from malaria which is commonly found on the borders of Thailand, Laos, Burma and Cambodia. To prevent being bitten by mosquitoes, wear long trousers and long sleeve tops in the evening. Apply insect repellent to exposed areas. If travelling in wooded or rural areas, wear boots and tuck trousers into boots to prevent bites from ticks and other insects. Also ensure that hotel or hostel rooms have good mosquito netting on the windows or around the bed.

To avoid the harmful effects of too much sun, apply a good quality sun screen and drink water at regularly intervals to prevent dehydration. Avoid too much time in the sun to prevent heat stroke or sun burn and wear a hat or remain under a sun brolly to limit exposure to the sun's rays especially around mid-day. Babies, children and fair skinned people are particularly vulnerable to the sun's rays and need the most protection.

Air pollution can also present a significant risk to people with heart or breathing problems in major cities such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai. To minimize these effects, it is best to remain indoors as much as possible, drink regular amounts of water and avoid over exertion. Finally, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/Aids, gonorrhea and other STDs can be prevented or the risk can be minimised by avoiding casual sex with other travellers or sex workers or by wearing good quality condoms.