It's usually a good idea to consult your government's travel-health website before departure, if one is available:
New Zealand (www.mfat.govt.nz/travel)
Even if you are fit and healthy, don't travel without health insurance - accidents do happen. Declare any existing medical conditions you have - the insurance company will check if your problem is pre-existing and will not cover you if it is undeclared. You may re quire extra cover for adventure activities such as rock climbing. If your health insurance doesn't cover you for medical expenses abroad, consider getting extra insurance If you're uninsured, emergency evacuation is expensive; bills of over US$100,000 are not uncommon. You should find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or if they reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures, (Note that in many countries doctors expect payment in cash.) Some policies offer lower and higher medical expense options; the higher ones are chiefly tor countries that have extremely high medical costs, such as the USA, You may prefer a policies that pays doctors or hospitals directly rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.
The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days prior to entering Vietnam. If you are travelling to Vietnam from Africa or South America you should check to see if you require proof of vaccination. Specialised travel-medicine clinics are your best source of information; they stock all available vaccines and will be able to give specific recommendations for you and your trip. The doctors will take into account factors such as past vaccination history, the length of your trip, activities you may be undertaking, and under lying medical conditions, such as pregnancy. Most vaccines don't produce immunity until at least two weeks after they're given, so visit a doctor four to eight weeks before departure. Ask your doctor for an International Certificate of Vaccination (otherwise known as the yellow booklet), which will list all the vaccinations you've received. In the US, the yellow booklet is no longer issued, but it is highly unlikely the Vietnam authorities will ask for proof of vaccinations (unless you have recently been in a yellow-fever affected country).
For info on current immunisation recommendations for Vietnam, contact the inter national team of doctors at the Family Medical Practice (www.donorkot.com) in Hanoi and HCMC . They can provide the latest information on vaccinations, malaria and dengue-fever status, and offer general medical advice regarding Vietnam. See the boxed text for possible vac cinations you may require.
Recommended items for a personal medi cal kit:
antibacierial cream, eg Muciprocin ;
antibiotics for skin infections, eg Amoxi-cillin/Clavulanate or Cephalexin
antibiotics for diarrhoea, eg Norfloxacin or Ciprofloxacin; Azithromycin for bacterial diarrhoea; and Tinidzode for giardiasis or amoebic dysentery
antifungal cream, eg Clotrimazole
antihistamines for allergies, eg Cetrizine for daytime and Promethazine for night anti-inflammatories, eg Ibuprofen antinausea medication, eg Prochlorperazine
antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, eg Betadine
antispasmodic for stomach cramps, eg Buscopa
decongestant for colds and flus, eg Pseu-doephedrine
DEET based insect repellent
diarrhoea 'stopper', eg Loperamide first-aid items such as scissors, planters (Band Aids), bandages, gauze, thermom-eter (electronic, not mercury), sterile needles and syringes, safety pins and tweezers
indigestion medication, eg Quick Eze or Mylanta
iodine tablets (unless you are pregnant or have a thyroid problem) to purify water laxatives, eg Coloxyl
migraine medication (your persons brand), if a migraine sufferer
oral-rehydration solution for diarrhoea ,eg Gastrolyte
paracetamol for pain
permethrin (to impregnate clothing and mosquito nets) for repelling insects steroid cream for allergic/itchy rashes, eg 1% to 2% hydrocortisone
sunscreen and hat
thrush (vaginal yeast infection) treatment, eg Clotrimazole pessaries or Diflucan tablet
urine alkalisation agent, eg Ural, if you're prone to urinary tract infections.
There is a wealth of travel health advice on the Internet. . The World Health Organization (WHO;www.who.int/ith/) publishes a superb book called International Travel & Health, which is revised annually and is available free on line. Another website of general interest is MD Travel Health (www.mdtravelhealth.com), which pro-vides complete travel health recommenda
tions for every country and is updated daily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.www.cdc.gov) website also has good general information.
Vietnam Travel Guide's Healthy Travel - Asia & India is a handy pocket-size book that is packedwith useful information including pretripplanning, emergency first aid, immunisation and disease information and what to do if youget sick on the road. Other good recommended references in- wood as well as Travelling Well by Dr Deborah Mills - check out the website (www.travellingwell.com.au).
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travellers to Southeast Asia; Adult diphtheria and tetanus - single booster recommended if you've had none in the previous 10 years. Side effects include a sore arm and fever. Hepatitis A - provides almost 100% protection for up to a year; a booster after 12 months provides at least another 20 years' protection. Mild side effects such as headache and a sore arm occur for between 5% and 10% of people. Hepatitis B - now considered routine for most travellers. Given as three sho:s over six months. A rapid schedule is also available, as is a combined vaccination with Hepatitis A.