With Dr Felicity Nicholson
All visitors to St Helena are required to have valid medical insurance, proof of which must be shown on arrival. This must include coverage for the cost of evacuation in the event of a medical emergency. Although yellow fever does not occur on St Helena, visitors coming from a yellow fever endemic area must have proof of vaccination against yellow fever. Consult your doctor or a travel clinic at least ten days before your departure. If the vaccine is not deemed suitable for you then obtain an exemption certificate instead. It is wise to be up to date with tetanus, diphtheria and polio (now given as an all-in-one vaccine, Revaxis, which lasts for ten years). Other vaccines may be recommended, such as hepatitis B for healthcare workers, so if in doubt check with your GP or a travel clinic at least four weeks before you go.
Travel clinics and health information
A full list of current travel clinic websites worldwide is available on www.istm.org. For other journey preparation information, consult www.travelhealthpro.org.uk (UK) or http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ (US). Information about various medications may be found on www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel. All advice found online should be used in conjunction with expert advice received prior to or during travel.
St Helena is generally considered to be pretty safe. Anything more than petty theft, public drunkenness and traffic violations is rare, and the only nuisance that you’re likely to encounter is a noisy stereo or the boom of music from the bars in Jamestown on a Friday and Saturday night. Only in very rare cases has a violent crime been committed, and even then, the parties concerned have generally had a dispute with each other. On an island where doors are left open, and cars unlocked, it’s easy to get lazy about personal possessions, but it still makes sense to take normal precautions. Keep valuables somewhere sensible (though there’s no such thing as a room safe yet), and don’t flash the cash. It is generally considered safe to wander around Jamestown after dark, but if you’re walking along country roads at night, watch out for passing cars as the roads are narrow and for the most part unlit. Recreational drugs of any description are illegal. Although the occasional person has been caught trying to smuggle marijuana on the ship, hard drugs have to date not been a problem. Women travellers can expect to be treated with respect, and are at no greater risk on St Helena than anyone else.