“I really want to come to Ghana, but it scares me. Especially malaria, have you ever had malaria?” A lot of conversations started like this before I moved to Ghana. And now online I still get a lot of questions about malaria. So it’s about time I posted a blog post about malaria.
Visit a doctor or tropical institute before you travel to Ghana.
This blog is my personal story, based on my thoughts and experiences. It is by no means scientifically based and I advise you to visit a doctor or a tropical institute for medical advice on malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations before you leave for Ghana.
Have you ever had malaria, Pat?
Yes, many times… The first time was in 2001 when I was in Ghana for 6 months for volunteer work. If you want to read more about my first trip to Africa, click here. I took the prophylaxis Lariam, but I got malaria anyway. I have to say that I occasionally forgot to take those anti-malaria tablets and certainly didn’t take them every Wednesday at a fixed time. My most recent malaria was last April, a few months ago.
Do you get very sick of malaria?
It’s different for me every time. Malaria doesn’t always come alone. When I’m already tired or suffer from something else, I’m more ill than when I’m healthy apart from malaria. I’ve had malaria countless times and ended up in hospital twice because of it. The last admission to hospital was almost 6 years ago and I’ve had malaria many times after that, but I take better care of myself since I’m a mom and therefore I’m responsible for the children.
You’ve been living in Ghana for years, are you immune to malaria now?
No, unfortunately not. Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted by a certain type of mosquito. Read more about the medical side on wikipedia.
When I get this tired/painful feeling in my bones in combination with a fever I know enough. So I recognize it quicker, I start taking anti-malaria medication earlier, so I usually don’t get very ill from it.
I’d rather not take anti-malaria tablets when I come to Ghana, what do you think?
I think this is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Some people make the decision and choose not to take anti malaria tablets when they come to Ghana. I often understand this choice. But the most common type of malaria in Ghana is malaria tropica and untreated malaria kills you. That’s something to think about.
On the other hand, there are adequate tests and good medication against malaria is available in Ghana, even in the remote places. But you have to keep an even better eye on yourself if you don’t take the prophylaxis.
As said before, taking prophylaxis is no guarantee that you won’t get malaria!
If you want to discuss one-on-one with me about whether or not to take anti-malaria tablets or vaccinations, that’s always possible! Feel free to send me a What’s app!
Do I have to bring a mosquito net to Ghana?
It depends a bit on what you are coming to do, where you are going, where you are going to stay and in which period of the year you are coming. A lot of accommodations for tourists have mosquito nets, like Moon&Star guesthouse. I often hear from travelers that they bought an expensive mosquito net but never unpacked it during the whole trip through Ghana. A waste!
My advice is not to bring one from Europe, but when you are here and think you need one to buy it locally. That is more sustainable anyway, but also cheaper for you.
How much DEET should I bring?
A bottle of DEET of 100 ml will last you about 2 weeks. So do the math! By the way, there is anti mosquito cream available in Ghana with a lower concentration of DEET. I like it very much, it smells nice and it doesn’t dehydrate the skin.
Do you have any questions about malaria in Ghana? Feel free to contact me!
What to take with you on a trip to Ghana
I wrote a blog about what to bring and what to leave at home when you come to Ghana. The blog also contains a handy packing list!