How you can stay healthy when travelling in Ethiopia

When it comes to Africa, different nations can be a lot more susceptible to diseases and recurring outbreaks.

Unfortunately Ethiopia falls in this category.

Health issues facing the country can be devastating for unsuspecting travellers and a real concern for anyone planning a trip into the region.

Anyone planning a tour into Ethiopia needs to make sure they prepare before arriving in the country.

Always remember: prevention instead of treatment.

Biggest Problem

The biggest health concern for anyone deciding to visit Ethiopia is the obvious lack of treatment or emergency health.

Even in the capital, Addis Ababa, health facilities are very limited and generally inadequate.

This is even more so in the areas outside the capital.

So don't assume you will get great medical care while in the capital, often this won't be the case.

The lack of equipment and supplies (medicines etc) can be startling at best. So always prepare and understand fully the situation before you go.

This shortage of medical assistance is also found when it comes to emergency situations. You will find that ambulances are non-existent, and helicopters to take you to hospital will be unreliable and very expensive.

So probably not the best idea to test yourself against a lion while in Ethiopia. Stay smart and you'll be safe.

Ethiopia's Shame

When it comes to most places in Africa, treatment of the mentally ill is definitely non-existent. You'll find psychiatric services and medications for people suffering mental issues don't exist.

You'll also find a lot of people on the streets who are obviously in need of professional help…unfortunately, they won't be receiving any.

As a traveller there's not a lot you can do, but just be aware of the situation.

Malaria Mayhem

Ethiopia like every African country has a high level of malaria infection. For anyone travelling into Africa, make sure you speak to a doctor about malaria medication.

All parts of the country will have incidents of malaria, so it will be hard to let your guard down.

Just be prepared before you land. Take your tablet and try to cover up at night to prevent mosquito bites.

A good tip is to carry mosquito spray and give your room or tent a good spray each night. That will mean you'll have a good night sleep without fear of a mosquito bite.

Altitude Issues

Ethiopia is a very mountainous country. It therefore has high altitude and can be a health problem, even for the fittest of travellers.

Fact: Altitude sickness can affect everyone, even trained athletes. Fitness only goes so far when you are climbing mountains.

Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world, at an altitude of 8,300 feet. So travellers may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headaches and an inability to sleep.

Individuals with respiratory (including asthma) or heart conditions should consult with a doctor before traveling to Ethiopia.

Water Woes

Here's a good tip, stay out of the water! It may look inviting especially after a hot day, but the consequences could end your trip.

Avoid swimming in any lakes, rivers, or still bodies of water. Most bodies of water have been found to contain parasites.

Ethiopia also has outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea, resulting in about 600 deaths. It also has recurring cases of cholera, typhoid, or other bacterial diarrhea in the recent past, and the conditions for outbreaks continue to exist in both urban and rural settings.

So take care and play it safe and you will stay healthy.

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1 Comment

  • Steve Kutay said

    stevek.etpGreat post Phil.

    When my wife and I visited Ethiopia in 2018, we were at first a bit concerned although we have traveled extensively.

    I had only been to Ethiopia in the 70's which was a way different experience than today.

    Still we did a lot of research on what vaccines the CDC recommended for travelers, especially US tourists.

    The one thing that I noticed that you failed to mention in your article was two diseases that we got vaccines for:

    Hepatitis A
    The CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Ethiopia, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

    You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Ethiopia. The CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

    I wanted to share a post I did about the recommended shots most tourists should consider taking before traveling to Ethiopia.

    If you get a couple of minutes, check it out. I would appreciate it.

    You can check it out here:

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