The most common health problem for a foreigner in Benin are different kinds of stomach problems and malaria. The medication against cholera protects from stomach bugs and anti-malaria treatments and insecticides help protecting from malaria. Sometimes stomach problems occur with malaria, so in case of a feverish stomach bug one should always make sure it is not malaria and have it tested. Beninese doctors are used to diagnosing and treating malaria.
The tap water in Grand-Popo is suitable for drinking, but for some it can still cause symptoms if it has not been boiled. In conditions of extreme heat, one should remember to drink at least three litres a day.
Vaccinations needed for Benin: yellow fever (to travel to Benin you need a certificate of the yellow fever vaccination), diphtheria-tetanus, MPR-measles, polio, hepatitis A.
Additional vaccines: hepatitis B, typhoid fever, meningococcus, cholera.
There are three different anti-malaria treatments available in Finland:
Lariam (a pill once a week)
Malarone (a pill every day)
Doxycycline (a pill every day; antibiotic)
You should note that doxycycline is an antibiotic based medicine. It is prescribed by doctors in Finland when wanting to avoid the side effects of Lariam that can sometimes be serious. It is taken daily, same as Malarone, but is cheaper. The problem with doxycycline, however, is that being an antibiotic in itself, it narrows down possible treatments if one actually comes down with malaria. This is why many doctors in Africa do not recommend using it.
You should note that the anti-malaria treatment does not provide a 100% protection against malaria and it is very important to protect oneself with clothes and insect repellent. Remember to attach well your mosquito net under the mattress!
Paracetamol for painkiller (ibuprofen is not recommended in the tropic).
Medications for stomach bugs and diarrhoea (e.g. Imodium: good if you need to travel when you’re sick, lactic acid bacteria: prevent stomach problems and e.g. Osmosal for hydration).
The sun at noon burns the skin quickly, and you should avoid direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm. Sun screen (with at least 30 SPF) helps temporarily, but the best way to protect your skin are protective, light clothes and staying in the shadow.
Doctors and hospitals
The nearby city of Comé has a health centre and a laboratory. You can also have a doctor to come to Grand-Popo. There is also a well-equipped pharmacy in Comé, where you can find anti-malaria medication and antibiotics. In addition to the health centre, the regional hospital is located in Comé.
There is also a health centre in Grand-Popo, and Villa Karo has a medicine cabinet for stomach bugs and minor illnesses.