How to Stay Healthy in Haiti
Before You Leave:
Tetanus: up to date if given in the past 8 - 10 years
Hepatitis A: one injection and then can be boosted in 6 months to give lifetime immunity
Typhoid: comes in tablet form which is protective for 5 years, or injection which is protective for 3 years
MMR: usually completed in childhood but double check; if born before 1960, you have most likely had the diseases
Malaria: prevention is usually with Chloroquine 500mg tablet; take one tablet the week before departure, one each week that you are in Haiti, and once a week for 4 weeks upon return.
Traveler's Diarrhea: it is best to bring a prescription filled for Ciprofloxin 500mg, one tablet every 12 hours for three days, 6 tablets; a box of over the counter Imodium and Peptobismol. If you develop diarrhea while on the mission trip, speak to the medical team leader as to how to treat. See your health care provider if you are less than 18 years old for other antibiotic options. Metronidazole 500mg twice a day is used if dysentery is the problem, but is usually carried by the medical team.
Your personal medications: Bring enough for the duration of the trip; carry in original containers; place in your carry-on luggage. Be sure all information about your medical situation is on your application. Discuss any concerns with the medical team leader. Reminder: some medications make you sensitive to the sun so check with your pharmacist.
Over the counter medication: Bring whatever items you think you might use; tylenol or ibuprofen are always a good idea to bring. Also consider bringing packages of powdered rehydration drinks, such as Gatorade. It is very hot in Haiti and you will sweat out a lot of water.
Consult your health care provider or local travel clinic if you have other questions.
Other "medicinal" things to bring: Ear plugs (many dogs and roosters); Bug repellent spray/wipes/wrist bands; mosquito bed netting, usually for a twin size; hand sanitizer that is 60% alcohol; SUN SCREEN.
Keeping well hydrated is necessary to feeling well. Drink plenty of purified or bottled water and avoid ice unless it comes from the mission house. Limit soda as tends to make you more thirsty. Powdered rehydration drinks are easy to carry. Bring your own water bottle with a covered mouth piece.
REMEMBER: If you are thirsty, you are dehydrated.
Use ONLY bottled/purified water when brushing your teeth. You may want to bring an extra tooth brush in case you forget.
Eat ONLY food prepared in the mission house or approved restaurants. Use hand sanitizer before you eat. Use utensils whenever possible. Bring individually packed snacks, such as fiber/granola bars, dried fruits or nuts; crackers and peanut butter. Blessedly, the food is great on these trips and eat fruit as often as it is served.
Apply sun screen before you go out into the field and reapply often. Bring a hat and neck scarf (for sweat); keep shoulders covered.
Working in the Mission Field:
We want you to feel your best and be safe out in the field. ALWAYS wear closed toe shoes! Foot coverage is best at the beach, too. Wear hats and gloves as needed. If working with cement, please wear goggles to protect your eyes. Glasses are better than contacts out in the field as there is a great deal of dust and smoke in the air.
PACE YOURSELF: take breaks and sit in the shade, drink often. Do not wander off from the team. If you are not feeling well, let the leader know. CARE FOR EACH OTHER!
Please wash hands often--it is your first line protection against illness. Use a 60% alcohol hand sanitizer even more often!! And as simple as it sounds, keep your hands out of your mouth.
Traveler's diarrhea, and other illnesses can start after you have returned home. If feeling poorly, seek medical care. Be sure to finish your chloroquine.