Before visiting Ghana, it is important that your child gets a number of vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases your child might be at risk for. It is the responsibility of each student, respectively the parents, to ensure up-to-date and complete immunization coverage.
The following information is offered to students and parents as a guideline to immunization requirements and health issues regarding the travel to Ghana. This information cannot replace a visit to your health care provider. Thus, it is highly recommended you first arrange a meeting with a tropic doctor (two doctors in the Zurich canton are given below).
Immunization recommendations when travelling to Ghana:
|Disease or vaccine||Recommendation or requirements||Additional advice|
|Hepatitis A||Incubation period approx. 4 weeks. Symptoms vary in severity, from nausea to vomiting, weakness, lasting up to a few months. Lifelong immunity afterwards.|
|Hepatitis B||If a person is not immunized, a base immunization is required: two immunization four weeks apart, the third immunization is six months after the first. Two to four weeks after the second dose, protection is reasonable, but long term protection at 96% protection is achieved after the third immunization.There is an accelerated immunization schedule but it does not offer the same protection.|
|Combined Hepatitis A + B||Recommended instead of separate Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B immunizations||It is not necessary to keep a chronological interval to other immunizations|
|Typhoid||Recommended. NOTE that the combined vaccine against Hepatitis A and Typhus is not recommended for children under 16 years.||May not be administered within 4 weeks of another live immunization such as yellow fever, MMR, BCG, or varicella.|
|Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)||Recommended if immunization is not up-to-date||May not be administered within 4 weeks of another live immunization such as yellow fever, MMR, BCG, or varicella.|
|Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus (DPT)||Recommended if immunization is not up-to-date||If the student has not had a tetanus booster in the last 5 years, it is strongly recommended before the trip|
|Polio||Recommended if immunization is not up-to-date. Students should have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV).||For students who received an all-IPV or all-oral poliovirus (OPV) series, a fourth dose is not necessary if the third dose was administered at age 4 years or older.|
|Rabies||Recommended by the CDC for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, hiking, or work.||Students should not play with or pet any animals and MUST report any bites to the chaperones IMMEDIATELY.|
Malaria is a serious disease and a great risk in all areas of Ghana. Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. You can prevent this disease by taking an antimalarial drug (prescription from doctor, highly recommended) and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites (recommended to bring mosquito net). Malarone is a combination product of Atovaquone and Proguanil and should serve chemical prevention for malaria. Discuss with your tropic doctor about this or a similar product. 1 Malarone tablet has to be taken daily from the day BEFORE departure, during the entire trip and up to 7 days after returning to Switzerland. Tablets should be taken during dinner to help with absorption. NOTE that Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Ghana and should not be taken to prevent malaria.
Repellent sprays should be used for protection against mosquito bites. It is recommended to spray the repellent AFTER you have applied sun protection. Two sprays are recommended:
i. Anti-Brumm Forte (lasts up to 12 hours and contains DEET protection against insect bites)
ii. Autan Active (lasts up to 8 hours)
Both are available in pharmacies or Swiss Drogerien. If you complain of fever above 38 degrees, headache, shivering and other flu-like symptoms during AND after the trip, seek medical advice within 24 hours.
Other important medicines and items you need:
- Prescription medicines you take every day. Make sure you have enough to last during your trip. Keep them in their original prescription bottles and always in your carry-on luggage.
- Medicine for diarrhea
- Sunblock and sun glasses
- Antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- To prevent insect/mosquito bites, bring:
- Lightweight long-sleeved cotton shirts, long pants, and a hat to wear outside, whenever possible
- Flying-insect spray to help clear rooms of mosquitoes
Be careful about food and water. Diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness when travelling. They can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Remember to follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating, or use an alcohol-based hand gel
- Drink only bottled or boiled water
- Do NOT drink tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes
- Do NOT use tap water to brush your teeth
- Unless told so by a chaperone, do NOT eat salad, unpeeled raw fruit or vegetables, mayonnaise, etc. raw food may have been washed with contaminated water
- Do not eat food bought from street vendors
- Make sure food is fully cooked
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized
After you return home continue taking your antimalarial drug for 7 days. If you are not feeling well, you should get medical attention within 24 hours and mention your recent travel.
Yellow fever is common in Ghana and can be transmitted through mosquito bites in the Bosomtwe area. You MUST get your child vaccinated before visiting Ghana, it is even required in order to get your visa. Contact a yellow fever doctor (see below) in the area to discuss what to do against yellow fever, as each doctor gives their own advice.
|Travel Clinic Dr. med. Danielle Gyurech, PD Dr. Med. Julian SchillingForchstrasse 92, 8008 ZurichTel. No. 044 380 36 36
|Schweizerisches Tropen Institut Hirschgraben 84, 8008 ZurichTel. No. 044 634 51 51|
|This is a doctor in the area who is certified to administer yellow fever immunizations and others if they are required:|
|Dr. Fritz Akert, Eintrachtstrasse 16, 8820 WaedenswilTel. No. 044 783 96 99|
A special thanks to Lui Holzleg, MD Healthy and Safe Away from Home, for her contributions to the health and immunization advice for students traveling to Ghana.