Although Papua New Guinea is a country rich in authentic and untouched soils, many parts of the country still remain undeveloped. Although the health care systems are not the best in quality, travelers may consider precautionary measures to take when health in Papua New Guinea is concerned.
- All travelers should visit their personal physician or a travel health clinic about 4 to 8 weeks before departure. You might need to get vaccination and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases or other viruses that might put you at risk during your visit. It will take about 4-6 weeks for certain vaccines to take effect, so make sure to visit beforehand.
- Travelers should obtain vaccinations for the following diseases: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Tetanus-diphtheria. Although not all are required of all travelers, the ones that are most recommended for travelers are the ones for Hepatitis A and B and Typhoid.
- Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common tourist-related ailment. The best thing for countering such sickness is to generally avoid drinking tap water and only eat at places that appear to have good sanitary procedures. Do not drink unsealed beverages or drinks with ice. It’s best to bring along antibiotic and anti-diarrhea drugs. An adequate intake of fluids if diarrhea does occur is also essential.
- Malaria is a widespread disease in Papua New Guinea. The symptoms of malaria do not occur until 2 to 3 months after exposure. Insect protection is then essential. Wear long sleeves, long pants, hats and shoes especially when traveling to rural areas to prevent insect and tick bites. Do not sleep with windows open unless the window has a screen of very fine mesh. If sleeping outdoors, bring a mosquito net with you with the edges tucked under the mattress. If without mosquito nets, use a mosquito coil instead.
- There was a cholera outbreak in 2009, which was the first ever reported by Papua New Guinea. This is mainly related to contaminated drinking water, which is typical in situations of conditions such as poverty, overpopulation and poor sanitation. Although travelers have an extremely low risk for infection, cholera vaccination is still recommended, especially to those traveling to remote areas of the country.
- Pack a personal medical kit with you and stock with adequate supplies of all medications possible. Bring medication for ailments such as headaches, stomach disorders, motion sickness, nausea, etc. Pharmacies are only found in urban areas and missionary clinics which may not even be well supplied.
- Medical care is limited in Papua New Guinea as equipment failures are possible. The main health care facility in Papua New Guinea is the Port Moresby General Hospital, which provides adequate care for routine problems. Although there are a handful of small hospitals and missionary stations in the rural areas, quality is subjective. Cash is the usual payment here regardless of travel health insurance. In case of serious medical problems, emergencies or accidents, patients will need to be air evacuated to a country such as Australia with state-of-the-art medical facilities.
Compared to Australian standards, health in Papua New Guinea rates fairly poor when it comes to medical care facilities and services. Despite so, if travelers remain alert and have taken precautionary measures as needed, one shouldn’t be prevented by that, however, from seeing the vast outdoors of Papua New Guinea.