The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to Zambia
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.
Additionally, malaria, yellow fever, zika virus, chikungunya virus and dengue fever are a risk in Zambia so avoiding being bitten by mosquitos is advised. Also, ticks can carry diseases so when going through forested areas or long grass protect yourself by wearing long trousers and shirts. Tsetse flies carry diseases and there are no effective repellents so the same precautions as for ticks are the best prevention.
Zambia’s public healthcare system is very basic by first-world standards and suffers from inadequate funding and a lack of infrastructure and facilities, especially in rural areas. There are good private hospitals in Livingstone and Lusaka and if you have any kind of medical emergency you’ll be transferred there as soon as possible. For very serious or on-going treatment, patients may require evacuation to South Africa which has the best medical facilities in the region. Treatment and evacuation costs are expensive, however, so comprehensive healthcare insurance is essential.
For less serious medical issues, pharmacies can be found in the major cities, but are extremely scarce in rural areas. Even in the cities, the range of drugs and supplies can be limited and very few are open on Sundays. Ensure you have a comprehensive first-aid kit before travelling into remote areas.
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.
All travellers arriving in Zambia will have their temperature checked and will be required to complete health declaration forms for submission to Port Health Officers. Regardless of vaccination status, if you enter Zambia with a body temperature equal to or above 38.0 C, you will be tested for COVID-19 at your expense on arrival and be required to quarantine (at your home, a hotel or a government facility) until your test results are known.
- Petty crime is common including pickpocketing and vehicle break-ins. Security risks increase after dark, especially in tourist areas and city centres.
- Stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid walking alone or travelling after dark. Keep vehicle doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, even when moving.
- Spontaneous demonstrations are common and even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. Avoid all demonstrations, political rallies and large public gatherings as they can turn violent.
- Date-rape drugs have been used in bars and restaurants in Lusaka. Always keep a close eye on your food and drinks. If you’re not sure it’s safe, leave it.
- Thieves sometimes follow people after they withdraw money from ATMs. Avoid using ATMs at night and be vigilant of your surroundings as you withdraw money.
- Commercial fraud scams are common in Zambia. Don’t send money to anyone in Zambia until you’ve undertaken proper checks.
- Police and border officials can ask to see your passport and immigration stamp or visa at any time. They could detain or arrest you if you don’t have them.
- Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Zambia.
Useful emergency numbers
- Emergency – 999
- Police – 991
- Ambulance – 991
- Fire brigade – 993
- Lusaka Central Police Station – 0211 220006
- Lusaka Central Fire Station – 0211 220180
- Lusaka Ambulance Service – 0211 220180
- Ambulance – 991
- Fire Brigade – 993
- Hospital UTH (Universal Teaching Hospital) Lusaka – 0211 251200
- Hospital UTH Casualty Direct Line – 0211 254115