The health risks in Sri Lanka are different to those encountered in Europe and North America. Watch out for bowel diseases such as diarrhoea and amoebic dysentery, vector borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, and a variety of fungal infections. Sri Lanka’s physicians, many of whom have trained in the West, are particularly experienced in dealing with locally occurring diseases.
Before you go
No inoculations are compulsory unless you are coming from a yellow fever or cholera affected area. (Cholera is very occasionally reported in Sri Lanka, so is not considered a serious risk.) However, the following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you plan a long trip or intend visiting remote areas:
Typhoid (monovalent), polio, tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies.
Children should, in addition, be protected against: diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella.
Remember to plan well ahead with vaccinations. Allow up to six weeks to receive the full course, for some vaccinations need to be administered more than once and some should not be given together.
The risk of malaria exists throughout the whole country apart from the districts of Colombo, Kalutara and Nuwara Eliya. Medication has to start one week prior to travel, continue during the trip, and finish four weeks after your return. Once again, planning is essential, as well as care to ensure the course is followed.
When you are there
- Tap water is not safe to drink. The best is bottled water. Make sure that the bottle carries an SLS certification and that the seal is broken only in your presence.
- Make sure not to re-use plastic bottles as government has been warned.
When you flop onto the beach or poolside lounger for a spot of sunbathing,
always remember to apply a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor of at least 15.
- Remember you are just 600km from the equator: even with sunscreen, your sunbathing should be limited in time.
Sometimes, those who have spent too long in the sun, suffer what is called a heatstroke, the most common form being caused by dehydration. This condition can occur if the body’s heat-regulating mechanism becomes weakened and the body temperature rises to unsafe levels. The symptoms are a
high temperature – yet a lack of sweat – a flushed skin, severe headache, and impaired coordination. In addition, the sufferer may become confused.
If you think someone has heatstroke, take that person out of the sun, cover his/her body with a wet sheet or towel and seek medical advice. To avoid heatstroke take plenty of bottled water to replenish dehydration. The water of the King Coconut is a splendid alternative.
Prickly heat rash occurs when your sweat glands become clogged after being out in the heat for too long or from excessive perspiration. The rash appears as small red bumps or blisters on elbow creases, groin, upper chest or neck. To treat it, take a cold shower, clean the rash with a mild soap application, dry yourself, apply hydrocortisone cream, and, if possible, a product that contains salicylic acid. Repeat every three hours.
LOCAL HEALTH CARE
Minor health problems can always be treated by doctors in the resorts and elsewhere in the country. If you have a more serious problem, Colombo now boasts a selection of modern, well-equipped private hospitals offering the latest in conventional medical and surgical therapies. A growing number of foreigners is taking advantage of affordable, high quality private healthcare in Sri Lanka, and combining it with the chance to take a holiday. Though the medical tourism industry in Sri Lanka is still in its early days, a number of private hospitals in Colombo are geared to provide advanced surgery and other treatment to international clients
(link to Medical Tourism article)
[Can check this for advertisements from private hospitals for the GUIDE.]