The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to Malawi
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 Malawi 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.
Access to medical care in Malawi is very limited, especially outside of Lilongwe, the capital city and Blantyre. The health care provided by the country’s medical facilities remains of poor quality.
General medical facilities throughout Malawi are unable to provide the same standard of healthcare as in the developed countries. Facilities in rural areas are basic and emergency services are limited. You should carry basic medical supplies. Many medical facilities expect to be paid up-front for treatment. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, medical evacuation and repatriation.
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.
Most visits to Malawi are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself from muggers and bag-snatchers. Most thefts from visitors take place around the main bus stations in Lilongwe and Blantyre. Avoid walking around quiet areas, especially after dark. Leave valuables and cash in a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents in a separate place Report any thefts to the police as soon as possible.
You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies, remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities and/your tour operator.
Be cautious if over-friendly people approach you offering to act as guides or selling goods, or who claim to know you and ask for a lift. Don’t accept food or drink from strangers; people have been robbed after eating drugged food.
House burglaries, including by armed gangs, do occur though crime rates are low by regional standards. There has been an increase in break-ins in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Limbe, including violent assaults on residents. Review your security systems and watch out for anything unusual.
- Don’t leave items such as laptops and briefcases in unattended vehicles
- Don’t display jewellery or electronics when walking
- Remain vigilant when using public transportation or walking along deserted streets
- Avoid walking and driving at night
- Taxi and minibus operators have robbed their passengers and stranded them far from their destination. Avoid taking taxis or minibuses that have only one or two passengers, and ensure that your personal belongings are secure at all times when using public transportation.
Useful emergency numbers
Malawi Police: 997 – In case of an accident including car accident, robbery attempts, violence, gang related issues, call this number.
Malawi Ambulance: 998 – In case of an accident or life threatening illness, condition, you should call this number.
Malawi Fire department: 999 – In case of a fire, you should call this number for assistance.
Major public hospitals emergency numbers
Mzuzu Central Hospital: 01 320 099
Lilongwe Central Hospital: 01 751 109
Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital: 01 874 333
Zomba Central Hospital: 01 526 266