When it comes to planning a trip abroad, health may not always be at the forefront of our minds. But whether you’re leaving the UK for work, volunteering, long-term backpacking or just a holiday, you should always check the travel advice for your destination and factor in the availability of good healthcare and the prevalence of infectious diseases into your plans.
In many developing countries, there may be good, safe healthcare available in major cities, but venture into more remote areas and the level of care can be much more basic, with a higher risk from disease. In large countries especially, differences in development and climate can mean some parts of the country are virtually free of a disease while others aren’t. In other countries, a lack of development, political violence, economic crisis, natural disasters or a combination of these factors can mean healthcare provision throughout the country is very poor. Many of these places may not be much visited by your average tourist, but there are still plenty of people who do travel even to crisis-hit countries, including journalists, photographers, aid workers, volunteers and backpackers.
The maps below show most of the countries in the world which are considered by a leading travel consultancy to pose a high, very high or highly variable medical risk for travellers. This is based on the prevalence of infectious disease, the standards of local emergency medical and dental care, and a range of other factors. In countries described as at variable risk, good health provision is available in major cities but poor elsewhere. In high risk countries, specialist care and access to quality drugs is limited, while very high risk countries are judged to have almost non-existent or failing healthcare systems with a high risk of infection. Europe and North America have been left out as only Kosovo was assessed as more than a medium medical risk.
Map key: Orange = high risk, red = very high risk, dark grey = highly variable risk, light grey = low-medium risk or out of area