les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Health in Africa

OK. It is important to stay as healthy as possible. So a couple of weeks ago I went to see the doctor and we discussed malaria, yellow fever, etc. etc. I came away with some anti-diarrhoea pills (he made me accept them) and jabs for tetanus, diptheria and polio.

For malaria, seeing it was the dry season when they are fewer and less active I proposed to use anti-mosquito preparations and take malaria medication if I had any sign of fever.

Next stop the pharmacy. I bought a BIG bottle of spray on factor 50+ sunscreen. I bought some anti-mosquito spray you put on your clothes and some you put on your skin. I also got some smelly inhalation oil because the little critters don't like strong smells.

Then the next thing to consider is the heat. For that you drink bottled water, and lots of it. At times more than 3 litres a day.

Then there's the general bugs. One problem is that the water is drinkable but has different microbes in than we are used to, so it will give you the runs.
Not only that, but salad washed in the water wll give you the runs.
Not only that, but plates and cutlery washed in the water will give you the runs.
Not only that but it is comparatively rare to find a washbasin near a toilet.

So you need

1) to avoid salad unless the people preparing it know how to feed foreigners
2) to avoid anywhere where cleanliness is not understood (you have to let clean dishes dry)
3) to avoid eating those lovely delicacies they sell at the side of the road. It's not for you...
4) to use that alcohol gel stuff to clean your hands - sometimes surreptitiously to avoid giving offence.

I assumed I would be eating lots of oranges and bananas, anything that could be peeled, and drinking coca cola. I was wrong.

Instead I was fine eating the local food, served on clean, dry plates, eaten with local cutlery, and drinking lots and lots of bottled water as well as the local tea and coffee (incidentally always taken with lots of sugar).

I did get two bouts of diarrhoea :

- the first I am pretty sure was just a touch of heat-stroke the first weekend in the interior where it is very hot and the locals were talking about a heat-wave. One uncomfortable session on the loo, two pills (see above) followed by a lot of sleep and I felt like a new man !

- the second was probably linked with something I ate. Who knows what. It lasted longer, had more unpleasant symptoms and came just before a long bouncy car journey and the flight home. The doctor's pills stopped any excess of discomfort.

Thanks Doc !

One other thing. Sometimes in the summer in hot weather my fingers swell up. One day in Africa my feet swelled up. I was a little alarmed and tried to do what I could to minimise it. Anyway, it was only for one day. We took it as a sign that I should drink even more, but before any possible return trip to Africa I'll go and discuss it with the doctor.

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