South Africa requires no proof of immunization at entry. However, persons arriving from South America or one of the African areas with yellow fever, have to produce an International Vaccination Card to prove a yellow fever immunization.
A traveller should in general be inoculated against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis A and measles.
Malaria in South Africa
South Africa is generally malaria-free with the exception of a few areas in the subtropical/ tropical parts of the country. At present these areas are: Kruger National Park, the north-eastern part of KwaZulu-Natal (Umfolozi, Hluhluwe, St. Lucia, Kosi Bay, Pongola) and the north-east of Namibia (Kavangoland, Kaudom, Caprivi). For these parts malaria prophylaxis is recommended. The risk to be bitten by a carrier mosquito is estimated at 1:25,000 bites. Most cases occur in the humid months from December to April. The prevention remedy of choice is usually Lariam (or Nivaquine, Plasmoquine). Consult your medical doctor.
Prevent yourself from being bitten by mosquitos in the first place by using a good repellent, e.g. Tabard. At night and in the afternoon wear socks, shoes and a shirt with long sleeves, and use a mosquito net at night.
Bilharzia in South Africa
In some rivers and lakes in the northern parts of the Eastern Cape, in KwaZulu-Natal (except the Drakensberg) and in the northern provinces of South Africa Billharzia (Schistosomiasis) is common. The torpedo-shaped worms drill themselves within minutes through the human skin. They spread into the liver, bladder and colon. Grown worms are 10 to 20 mm long and can live up to 15 years. They produce 3000 eggs per day which are excreted with urine and stool. Typical symptom is blood in urine and stool. If not treated for years, it can cause severe liver damage. If diagnosed, it can be cured within a few days.
Health in South Africa
Medical care in South Africa can generally be qualified as good to excellent. To receive treatment of European standard, one should go to one of the many private hospitals which are state of the art - in all aspects: staff, hygiene and medical technology. Here you will find qualified specialists including experienced plastic surgeons. Government hospitals, however, are mostly very poorly equipped.
Treatments in private medical centres and private hospitals usually cost much less than in Europe. Medication is also cheaper.
HIV / Aids in South Africa
In the year 2005, according to an official survey 29,5% of pregnant South African women, who went to hospital to give birth, were HIV-positive, the highest number ever. Particularly high is the occurence of HIV in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, where the result was 40%. Other countries in southern Africa - Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho - present a similar picture. The situation is worst in Swaziland with 43% HIV infections in pregnant women. In Zimbabwe, however, the numbers are slightly on the decrease.
The black population in the townships is predominantly affected, the reasons being bad prevention, a very young average age at first sexual intercourse and - underlying all this - a traditionally weak position of women. Sexual violence also plays a big role. Many young women are forced to have intercourse against their will.
The Aids Foundation of South Africa predicts that over the next years more than half a million South Africans will die of Aids annually, with a tendency to an increase in this number.