Volunteering In The Third World: How To Hold On To Your Health
Heading off to volunteer in a third world country is one of the most exciting adventures you will ever embark on. You don’t want to have your time away ruined by being ill or injured, so it’s vital to consider how you are going to protect your health for the duration of the trip. People often get so caught up in making flight arrangements and investigating the work they will be doing that health concerns end up at the bottom of the priority list. Here’s how to make sure that you stay well while you’re away…
Clear up any health concerns
If you’ve had a bit of toothache, make an appointment with your dentist to get yourself checked out. It can be very difficult to get dental treatment in third world countries, and the pain relief can be inadequate or non-existent – side-step that landmine and get it sorted now. If you have any other worries about your health, go and see your GP for a check-up: this could save you a lot of worry and stress during the trip.
Find out about vaccinations
If you’re planning to volunteer in Ghana for example, you should get vaccinations for a whole host of illnesses. These include Hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever. Ask your doctor about protecting yourself against cholera, diphtheria, meningitis and rabies.
If you’re a bit squeamish about needles (and who isn’t?!) and wondering if you can get away with ‘forgetting’ about vaccinations – you can’t. You will be asked to present your Yellow Card on arrival in most third world countries, so you’ll have to prove that you have had all the inoculations before you can even set foot on foreign soil.
Apart from the legalities, the purpose of these injections is to protect yourself against deadly and debilitating diseases, so it’s a no brainer really. You can find out more about any vaccinations you might need from the World Health Organisation.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that fizzy or caffeinated drinks are just as good as water for keeping you hydrated. If you drink little or no water in very hot countries like Ghana, Sudan or Somalia, you will quickly become ill and might even collapse. Drinking clean water throughout the day is vital to stay healthy while you’re away. If you’re in any doubt over the cleanliness of the water, boil and cool it first or use water purification tablets to make it safe.
Get kitted out
Bring a small kit of supplies that will help you to take good care of yourself during your trip. Sunscreen is vital, no matter what your skin type. Even if you usually tan easily, the sun in third world countries much hotter and stronger than you will be used to. Bring rehydration sachets to sort yourself out if you get stomach sick, and make sure you pack your anti-malaria medication if you need it. Mosquito repellent is also a great idea.
It’s important to take good care of yourself while you’re abroad, but even more so when you’re volunteering. Looking after your health will mean that you can make the most of every single second of this once in a lifetime opportunity! Get more vital travel information here.