Health Concerns while Traveling in Underdeveloped Countries

Traveling to an underdeveloped country comes with risks. What are the health concerns for travelers headed to underdeveloped countries?

19 November 2010
Health Concerns while Traveling in Underdeveloped Countries

An increasing number of people are traveling overseas; some of them choose to travel to under-developed countries. Some under-developed countries are great travel destinations, because they have wonderful natural landscapes, as well as rich historical and cultural heritage. While these countries offer many excellent opportunities for outdoor activities and cultural exploration, they may not be very safe for travelers.

Be cautious of sanitary conditions

People who travel to under-developed countries may experience health problems during their trip. One thing that travelers have to understand about under-developed countries is that most of them do not have hygienic living conditions. The food and water in under-developed countries may also be unsafe for consumption. The standards of hygiene for food sellers in these countries may be different than those in more developed areas. Restaurants or street-food stands may not prepare their food with fresh and clean ingredients, and cooking tools and areas may be unsanitary. Travelers may get food poisoning when they are vacationing in under-developed countries due to the consumption of unsanitary foods.

Be wary of infectious diseases

Another health concern in under-developed countries is infectious disease. Infectious diseases, such as diarrheal diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis, cause approximately 40% of deaths that occur in these countries, especially in Africa and Asia. While these diseases can be easily treated in more advanced countries, but they remain a serious health concern in poor countries. Medicines for treating infectious diseases are not widely available in under-developed countries, and therefore, local hospitals do not have the resources to provide treatment for every infected person. Since the diseases are highly contagious, they can affect a significant portion of a country’s population, and they can result fatalities.

One serious disease that is threatening people in under-developed countries is AIDS. Approximately 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV; over 30 million of them live in these countries. The number of people dying from the AIDS disease has been significantly reduced with the development of since life-saving medications. Nonetheless, since these medications cost more than USD 10,000, most people from under-developed countries cannot afford them. Pharmaceutical companies in these countries also monopolize the drugs, and they are sold at exorbitant prices.

Arm yourself with travel insurance

It is important that travelers be well prepared and carry travel insurance in case of an illness or injury while traveling abroad. Travel insurance can help to reduce the burden of medical expenses or additional fees when travelers sustain mild illnesses in an under-developed country. High medical costs can cause serious financial problems for some travelers, especially those who are traveling on a budget.

To prevent themselves from serious financial losses, travelers to these countries should make sure that they are well insured before they go on their vacations. Travel insurance does not only offer reimbursement for medical costs that result from illnesses; it may also cover personal injuries, loss of belongings and baggage, travel curtailment, trip cancellation, and emergency evacuation. Travelers can choose from a wide variety of travel insurance policies, and some of these policies can be customized to suit the needs of those who are visiting under-developed countries. It is a good idea for travelers to do some research about the country that they are visiting, so that they can find out about the health issues, living conditions, weather, and political situation in that country. Then, they can purchase a travel insurance policy that covers emergencies that are more likely to occur during their trip. For those who are backpacking, there are special backpacking policies that offer coverage for vacations in under-developed countries. This kind of policy features a number of special coverage options, such as personal liability and high-risk activities, and they provide a longer duration of coverage.

Travelers going to under-developed countries should choose a travel insurance provider that offers travel assistance services. Established insurance companies can provide valuable assistance for distressed travelers, because they have connections with emergency services, medical facilities, and embassies in just about any country in the world. They can easily send rescue services to help travelers get out of difficult situations.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.