One of the most popular vacation destinations for European tourists is the amazingly beautiful country of the Maldives. It is a peculiar country, which owns the distinction as the lowest-lying country in the world. Most of this 1,200-island archipelago is only about 3 feet above sea level and experts believe that some of the islands will soon sink underwater if global warming remains unchecked. Eighty percent of the country has amazing colorful coral reefs, which means much of the area is almost submerged in water. This is why tourists are concerned about their health in Maldives, thinking that there could be water- and mosquito-based diseases.
Indeed, the islands were known to harbor Malaria-causing mosquitoes before, although there have not been any registered Malaria cases in the past ten years. Leprosy and tuberculosis are other common diseases that are experiencing a decline. According to the Maldives Healthcare survey, 20 years have been added to the life expectancy of a Maldivian person that was born after 1980. This is good news both for the locals and the visiting foreigners.
However, vaccinations against yellow fever, tuberculosis and hepatitis B going to and coming from the Maldives are still generally required in most western countries.
In 2010, another kind of mosquito has been terrorizing the area: the Dengue-causing kind. Instances of Dengue fever rose significantly in that year, mostly in the capital city of Male, which is why tourists should come equipped with mosquito-repellant lotions.
Another problem for visitors is the fact that medical facilities in the archipelago are limited. For all the hundreds of resorts scattered in a number of islands and atolls, there are only two hospitals available. They are both in Male and neither has a trauma unit. A decompression chamber is available for victims of drowning, but there is none in most islands. Although most of the islands are not more than 90 minutes away from the capital by plane, few minutes may be crucial in cases of emergency.
The two medical centers are the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and the ADK private hospital. The Maldives is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Sir Lanka, which is why medical supplies to these hospitals are scarce and expensive. As a result, medical care and treatment is not cheap.
For the locals, there is an average of just 1 doctor for 1,400 people, and 1 family health worker for 1,000 residents. It was only in 1991 that a course on nursing and midwifery was offered by the Institute of Health Sciences. Although still lacking much, the health situation in the archipelago has greatly improved in recent years.
Meanwhile, foreign tourists should also worry about the more common illnesses or health problems associated with tropical beach destinations. They should take plenty of water to avoid dehydration, but at the same time make sure to only drink safe, bottled water. Sunburn could also be a problem since it is typically scorching at the equator. Putting on enough sun protection lotion is a basic and easy step of improving health in the Maldives.