Health and Safe Travel Tips in Indonesia
As a developing country, Indonesia are generally a safe place to travel & possess minimum risk in terms of health, as long as precautions are made.
Larger cities such as the capital Jakarta, Bali and Jogja usually have very low risk because it is relatively clean and have good hygiene standards. On the other hand, there is some risk from contracting diseases from unclean environment or the spread of viruses in the rural and slum areas, due to the lack of hygiene standards.
Of course, we recommend to buy appropriate travel insurance before you travel to Indonesia.
Most Common Health Risk in Indonesia
There are few diseases that occurred often in this country, and we would like to give you heads up about those and how to reduce the risk:
- Malaria and Dengue Fever: are more common in rural areas especially in the five eastern provinces of East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, North Maluku, Papua and West Papua. It still can be found in big cities area like Bali or Jakarta, but the chances are very low. If you have been travelling in a malarious area and develop a fever seek medical attention promptly. Remember malaria can develop even up to one year after exposure.
- Cholera: a disease that causes by the spread of contaminated food or water. More common during floods and after natural disasters, in areas with very poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. It would be unusual for travelers to contract cholera if they take basic precautions with food and water and maintain a good standard of hygiene.
- Hepatitis A: causes by the spread of contaminated food and water or person to person through the facial-oral route. Risk is higher where personal hygiene and sanitation are poor.
- Hepatitis B: spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse. Risk is higher for those at occupational risk, long stays or frequent travel, children (exposed through cuts and scratches) and individuals who may need, or request, surgical procedures abroad.
- Rabies: spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or lick on broken skin. Particularly dogs and related species, but also bats. Risk is higher for those going to remote areas (who may not be able to promptly access appropriate treatment in the event of a bite), long stays, those at higher risk of contact with animals and bats, and children. Even when pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.
- Tetanus: an infectious diseases that spread through contamination of cuts, burns and wounds with tetanus spores. Spores are found in soil worldwide. Boosters are usually recommended in a country or situation where the correct treatment of an injury may not be readily available.
- Typhoid: this is probably the one you should put on top of your prevention priority list. Spread mainly through consumption of contaminated food and drink. Risk is higher where access to adequate sanitation and safe water is limited. If you are buying some street food, whether on big cities or rural areas, you should check its hygiene first.
Vaccines Required for Traveling in Indonesia
Before traveling to Indonesia, we recommend that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets.
The top priority vaccines required for travelers are Hepatitis A and Typhoid, since those two are the most frequent disease that occurs among Indonesians. Other courses or boosters usually advised are: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Cholera, Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Japanese Encephalitis.
Tips to Reduce Health Risks While Traveling in Indonesia
When you are already in Indonesia, there are few things you should do in order to reduce the chance of you getting one the diseases mentioned above. Here are the things you should consider:
- Don’t drink tap water, because it is unclean. Use tap water to wash your hand only.
- You should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria/dengue. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria/dengue, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. It is recommended that you apply anti-mosquito lotion on your skin as often as you can (you can buy lotion at convenience store or street vendor).
- Other way to prevent mosquito bites is to cover your skin with long sleeve or long trousers, especially after sunset. When sleeping, use mosquito net if possible.
- Pregnant woman should not travel to Indonesia because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
- Always bring vitamin, malaria tablet or booster in your trip and stay hydrated.
- Always wash your hands with sanitizer after contact with animals, unwashed gears, and anything that are dirty.