Muireann taking photos in Uganda


Mac Cool's Uganda Letter

Photographs and Stories by Muireann Mac Cool


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Vaccinations and First Aid Kits

Advice on what to get and what to pack in that First Aid kit for your adventure to Uganda.

Isn't it a joke when your doctor gives you a jab for something with Japanesse in the title when you are going to Uganda? Alas this is what happened to my brother. Vaccination and travel insurance must be the biggest money spinners in the travel industry at the moment. Shop around to get the best deals and don't get pushed into something you are not sure about. I like when I get a travel doctor that has actually travelled or studied tropical medicine. I've had my share of doctors pulling dusty books of the top shelf. They end up scaring themselves with what they read! Be aware, but also heed your doctor's advice. The internet can't give you all the answers.

You will need to get vaccinations against:

Yellow Fever

Hepatitis A & B (get it early)



Diptheria/ Tetanus combo


I don't mention Rabies because you would have to be very unlucky to be attacked by a dog or monkey or whatever if you are only coming for 2 weeks. If you intend to work with animals then that is another story or if you are travelling for longer periods you may wish to be on the safe side. I once got the shots but they are out of date now. I'm not getting them again because #1 I live at a hospital and can get the treatment injections #2 Because even though you can get the injections you will still need to be injected after you are bitten.

First Aid Kit:

If you are coming to visit me then you don't need a first aid kit because everything is here and easier still because FX works at the hospital. It's silly really what you think you might need and might pack when city's stock a vast range of medicines.

If you are not visiting me then you will need to think carefully about your kit, remembering that you can't pack for every eventuality.

Is it just me or does everyone suffer from dehydration when they travel? I always start my kit of with ORS satchets which I take as soon as I get a headache. More often than not I won't need a pain killer.

Did you know that you are more likely to catch a cold or flu than Colera or Meningitis or anything nasty? Think about what you are prone to getting. Consider what ailments you usually have after a flight. You may have a list already so bring the medicine/ointment etc that you'd usually use. Despite the 34oC outside I've got a runny nose and a sore throat. Lucky for me I have my Lemsip and UniFlu from Ireland. Alas I've run out of my Dispirin (they don't have that here) but FX has prescribed antibiotics so I'm on the mend. If you are the type that is prone to something like athlettes foot then bring the stuff for it. Bring lip balm for the lips cause they always chap. Think about the activities you'll be doing. If you intend to lounge by the pool for a week then why bring syringes and seventy different types of plaster? Think strongly about what you will need.

Painkillers seem to be found in the bottom of the world's handbags so why not in the kit?

Aftersun and an antihistmine cream for bites are essentials for any kit. If you have your own remedies for bites and burns pop them in. I prefer not getting biten with lashings of AUTAN mosquito repelant. I like this brand especially cause doesn't make the colours of my clothes bleed or melt bits of my shoes like some deets. Also I don't get bitten when I wear it.

Every kit should have the tablets for preventing malaria known as prophylaxis. The BBC world service reported recently that 10 people die every year in the UK from Malaria that they picked up while in Africa. Many travellers get freaked out by doctors that have never been to Uganda, telling them horror stories and statistics. The statistics are to be believed but sadly travellers become complacent on arrival and pick up ancedotal stories here and there and end up dropping the drugs. Others think that the prophylaxis are the only precaution to take and stop applying repellent.

93% of the total Ugandan population is at risk from malaria so what makes you so special that you think you can ellude the mossies?

If you are not staying in an air conditioned or well screened room then you will need to sleep under a treated mosquito net. Wear a mosquito repellent and choose the right prophilaxis for you before you travel.

You may wish to ask your doctor how to treat yourself in the event of getting malaria. Personally I wouldn't want to treat myself- I'd want to get to the nearest clinic where malaria is so common that it is like the flu in Europe. Thus the staff know how to treat it or to identify if you have another less pleasant disease.

If you wear glasses bring a spare pair. If you wear contacts you might pick up a common eye infection so bring a spare clean contacts case and spare solution.This will save you money in case you get the bug and do not want to bring on a repeat infection.

I'm not a big fan of Imodium but if you pack it make sure you pack motillium and tablets to help with running or upset stomaches. Lastly but not leastly I like to include some back up contraception and condoms. A female traveller might worry about AIDS and the local population but she should also consider her fellow travellers as equally dangerous. When you discover what kind of services male travellers can avail of in the local dives you may wish to reconsider their clean image.(Even if they haven't had 'ex with a prostitute, the oral activies are cheap and exciting in some bars)Condoms can protect against a range of STDs, Sadly there are more it won't protect against which can be picked up from skin contact. HIV is becoming a reality for more and more travellers and aid workers returning from developing countries. Even if you don't intend to use the condoms pack them for a friend.

The contents of your first aid kit should be tailored by you.

In summary I recommend:

Autan Mosquito replenant

ORS satchets

lip balm

Sun block and aftersun

Anti Malarial prophylaxis

Stuff incase you get a cold or flu

Stuff if you are prone to something like ulcers, cold sores, athletes foot, headaches, back pain etc.

mosquito net


Painkiller of choice

After Sun cream


Garlic to ward off night dancers ok not the last one.

Please consult a qualified pysician before you travel for the best and latest advice. I'm no expert and my advice is not written in stone..this is after all a blog.

Photo of Needle: Royalty Free Getty Images, Photo of Autan products:

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