Gambia Travel Health
As a West African nation, you can be sure that there are many things to think about to keep you healthy on your trip.
Read up on the recommended injections for The Gambia and then visit your travel vaccination clinic with plenty of time before your trip – ideally around 2 months in case a course of jabs is needed. Discover the best Gambia malaria prevention tips, and how to keep yourself as healthy as possible during your stay!
This page was created in July 2019 and is not intended as professional medical advice. We recommend NHS Fit For Travel for up-to-date, qualified medical information.
What do I need to bear in mind?
The Gambia is a country with a high level of poverty. Sanitation levels while generally good in tourist hotels, are generally poor elsewhere. Standing water can be an issue during the wet season (July to September) when mosquito activity is at its height; however, malaria is present year-round. Adults entering the country are legally required to produce a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever.
However, none of this should put you off! A few vaccinations and general attention to your health will mean you can relax and enjoy your trip.
There are a number of vaccinations which are recommended for travel to The Gambia: see the list below.
Talk to your doctor or travel clinic about the most suitable anti-malarial medication; Malarone tablets (atovaquone/proguanil) are a common choice as they have fewest side effects, but seek individual advice.
Gambia malaria prevention is as much about not getting bitten as anything. Wear long sleeves and trousers from sunset onwards, and use a mosquito repellent designed for tropical destinations. Better hotels are air-conditioned so keep doors and windows closed; budget accommodation will normally have mosquito nets provided, so be sure to use them!
Tropical heat and lower-quality water can often cause stomach upsets in overseas visitors. Remember, just because the locals can drink it safely, doesn’t mean it won’t upset you!
Always stick to bottled water where the seal is clearly intact. Avoid uncooked food, especially salads, unless you are in a hotel where sanitation is trustworthy.
Carry anti-diarrheal medication such as loperamide (Imodium), as well as rehydration tablets. Taking a daily probiotic can also help your stomach fight off any unfamiliar germs!
As of 2016, there were approximately 20,000 people living with HIV/Aids in The Gambia*, around 1% of the total population. This figure is declining.
* source: UNAIDS.org
The Gambia, therefore, has far less prevalence of HIV than many African countries, but care should still be taken to avoid this and other sexually-transmitted infections, especially if intending to engage in non-monogamous or risky behaviours during your stay.
Condoms, although available, may not be of the same quality as those found at home; considering taking some with you, including as a backup for the contraceptive pill in the event of illness.
You may wish to consider vaccination against hepatitis B, which is sexually-transmitted but entirely preventable by inoculation.
Recommended vaccinations for Gambia
Source: NHS Fit for Travel
Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A - Tetanus - Yellow Fever
Visit your doctor or travel clinic for boosters and/or new vaccinations. Note that yellow fever may only be available at certain clinics, and may require pre-booking.
Other vaccines to consider: Hepatitis B - Meningococcal Meningitis - Rabies - Typhoid
May be required in certain cases, such as travel to remote areas, areas of poor sanitation, or activities bringing you close to animals or to bodily fluids.
Rarely required: Cholera
Your doctor or travel clinic can advise if a cholera vaccine is required, but this is uncommon.
You will require anti-malarial tablets year-round; speak to your doctor or travel clinic for the most suitable product for you.
Where can I get medical treatment in The Gambia?
Most medical treatment is provided at hospitals; the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul (tel: +220 422 8223) is the country’s main medical hub.
In an emergency, speak to your hotel staff, your national embassy and/or your travel insurance provider for instructions. Note that all medical care in The Gambia must be paid for, normally in cash.