In advance of any trip, you should first seek out your own government’s website for health, security and up to date travel advice, as natural disasters, outbreaks of disease, political unrest and terrorist incidents, which may affect specific nationalities, religious or racial identities, can occur and develop quickly 

Be sure to consult your medical practitioner well in advance of travel (6-8 weeks) to seek advice, particularly if you have pre-existing conditions or are pregnant, and arrange any recommended or necessary treatment or vaccinations. It is also best practice to see a dentist before travel. 

With the exception of Yellow Fever, for those travelling from an infected area, there are no vaccinations required as a condition of entry into China. However the decision to avoid recommended medical precautions should be either based on medical advice from your practitioner or the personal acceptance of risk. 

Currently recommended vaccinations for China are Adult diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, MMR (Measles, mumps and rubella), Tuberculosis, Typhoid, and Varicella (chickenpox). If planning to travel without medical protection, it may also be prudent to check for pre-qualifying conditions with regard to ignoring medical advice in your travel insurance policy. 

Regarding travel insurance, this should be updated to include any adventure activities you may have included in your travel itinerary. Travelling without insurance is highly risky, even if you are fit and healthy, as the unforeseen can happen to anybody, resulting in serious medical expenses.  

The uninsured cost of repatriation to your own country can be astronomical and, using the standard international US $ measure, can easily run into a six-figure sum.  

If you are insured for any incurred medical expenses during your trip, be sure to keep all documents relating to your treatment for your claim.

If you are carrying prescribed medicines as part of your normal healthcare, these should be clearly labelled. In particular, if your self-medication requires the use of syringes, to avoid potentially serious misunderstandings with foreign officials, it is recommended to obtain a letter from your practitioner detailing their use in relation to your condition. 

The standard of healthcare in China is very dependent upon location, with provision outside of the cities often inadequate, with few specialist facilities.  

Although many medicines are available over the counter, even many which would require a prescription in many other countries, purchasing these is not recommended, particularly as such products can often be out of date or even fake. 

Assuming good personal hygiene, most travellers will not encounter medical difficulties in China, but the most likely ailment, as with all foreign travel, is diarrhoea, the best countermeasure for which is good hydration, also important in preventing heatstroke. Depending on location and time of year, sunscreen may also be essential. 

Cuts and grazes should be kept clean, with antiseptic applied to prevent infection. It is always recommended to carry a well-stocked personal medical kit for the immediate self-treatment of minor injuries and infections. Use a mosquito repellent to limit the potential of Malaria or Dengue Fever. 

Visitors should avoid drinking tap water and water from the wild, and should use only bottled water, even for brushing teeth. Ice in drinks should also be avoided and fruit should be peeled before eating. In common with many other parts of the world, it pays to examine the bottle-top seals, to ensure bottles have not been re-filled by unscrupulous traders. 

If you are travelling to some of China’s high altitude locations above 3,000 metres, for more than a day, altitude sickness is potentially a problem, particularly in Tibet, where some destinations are at elevations exceeding 5,000 metres.  

Good hydration and gradual ascents of 300 metres per day above 3,000 metres are the key to ameliorating the effects of altitude. If you are suffering from altitude sickness, on no account go any higher. If symptoms do not disappear after a day or two, or get worse, descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible.

 

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