The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to South Africa
The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot
They also suggest being vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B and rabies – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.
CDC recommends that travellers going to certain areas of South Africa take prescription medicine to prevent malaria. Depending on the medicine you take, you will need to start taking this medicine multiple days before your trip, as well as during and after your trip.
Avoid contaminated water:
Avoid bug bites by covering up and/or using insect repellent:
In South Africa, the health care system varies from basic primary health care, provided free by the government, to highly specialized, high-technology health services available in both the private and public sectors.
There are more than four hundred public hospitals and over two hundred private hospitals. The larger regional hospitals are administered by the provincial health departments. Primary care clinics and smaller hospitals are administered at the district level.
The public sector is under-resourced and stretched in some areas. While the government contributes about 40 per cent of all expenditures or costs on health, the public sector is always under pressure to provide services to about 80 per cent of the citizens.
The private sector is run mainly on commercial lines and provides to foreigners and middle and high-income earners who are generally members of medical schemes. In addition, it attracts most of the nation’s health professionals. Some of the major hospitals for medical tourism include Life Healthcare Hospital Group, Netcare Group, and Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital.
At the moment, accreditation is totally voluntary in South Africa and there is no Joint Commission International-accredited hospital. However, the Council for Health Services Accreditation of Southern Africa is the main local accreditation firm.
When you travel you should take out the necessary travel insurance coverage. We always use World Nomads but there are plenty of other insurance companies that offer travel insurance
Only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Eat fruits and vegetables that you have personally washed in clean water or peeled yourself. Never eat food sold by street vendors. Only drink boiled water that is sealed and has been filtered and disinfected. Prefer carbonated drinks, hot coffee or tea, and pasteurized milk.
- South Africa has a high rate of crime, including carjacking, house robbery, rape, and murder. The risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is generally low. The South African Tourism Police prioritise protecting tourists and are deployed in several towns and cities. However, you should always remain vigilant, as police resourcing can be limited.
- The most violent crimes tend to occur in townships on the outskirts of major cities or in isolated areas, but violent crime is not limited to these areas. Violent crime, including rape, sexual assault and robbery, can take place anywhere, including in public areas such as popular tourist spots and transport hubs. Try to travel with a friend, or ensure that a friend or responsible person is aware of your itinerary.
- If you choose to visit a township, you should use a responsible and reliable tour guide and should not travel to townships without one.
- Central business districts (CBDs) of major cities have a greater threat of crime than suburban areas, and the threat increases after dark. If you are visiting the CBD of any major city, follow basic security advice: remain alert, do not leave valuables on show, and take safe and reliable transport to and from your destination, be wary of people who approach you, and do not walk around after dark.
- There is a high risk of pickpocketing. You should not carry your wallet in your back pocket.
- Do not show signs of affluence, display money or carry valuables such as laptop computers or cameras.
- When at restaurants or bars, do not leave your bag under your chair or table or hung over the back of a chair; keep it on your lap.
- Ensure that all your bags’ zippers, straps and fasteners are closed and secure, and be aware of people behind and around you.
- Always carry your identity documentation or a copy of your passport. You must be able to produce valid identification on request by South African officials.
- If it needs saying, drug-taking and smuggling are illegal. That said the use of cannabis for private consumption was legalised in 2018. While private use is legal, it is illegal to purchase or sell cannabis and its use in public remains prohibited.
- Other than on a few designated beaches, nude sunbathing is illegal – although for women it is semi-acceptable along Clifton and Camps Bay beaches in Cape Town. Thong bikinis are commonly used.
- It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade any of its parts without a permit.
Useful emergency numbers
- Police: 10111
- Ambulance: 10177
- You can also call 112 from any mobile phone in South Africa to be routed through to your network provider’s emergency call centre
- Fire: 10111