Health and safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Health

Vaccinations

There are no requirements under the International Health Regulations to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it is wise to be up to date with childhood vaccinations, including tetanus, diphtheria and polio (which is given as the all in one vaccine Revaxis in the UK and lasts for ten years). Protection against measles, mumps and rubella is also recommended. Two doses of MMR given at least one month apart or a history of having had each of the diseases is sufficient.

Some travellers will be advised to protect themselves against the food- and water-borne disease hepatitis A. This is recommended for longer-stay travellers, those who will be living with friends and relatives or those visiting areas of poor sanitation.

For those who are intending to work in a medical setting or with children, or who are at risk through lifestyle, immunisation against hepatitis B is advised. Ideally, three doses of vaccine should be taken. There is a variety of schedules – the shortest being over 21 days for those aged 16 or over. Similarly, you should consider a rabies vaccine for trips of a month or more. This too is a course of three doses, which can be given over 21 or 7 days. BiH is considered to be a high-risk rabies country so all travellers should consider vaccination, particularly if you are going to be away from medical help, and definitely if you are working with animals.

To ensure a healthy trip, visit your doctor or a travel clinic at least six weeks before travel.

Safety

Despite the image of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s violent past it is actually one of the safest places in Europe. There is a very low rate of violent crime and most cases of violence are domestic. Walking the streets of any town or city at any time of day or night is a relatively safe bet, although take the usual precautions in the late evening as you would in any capital city.

The main concerns for travellers to Bosnia and Herzegovina are pickpockets on the main Ferhadija promenade and the tramways in Sarajevo and in Mostar, stray dogs, car thieves and landmines. The pickpockets, stray dogs and car thieves can be avoided by simple precautions and awareness. On trams in Sarajevo keep your purse close and your wallet in your front pocket. These people are quick and talented and you won’t even know that you’ve been had until later. Always lock your car door and if you have an alarm, engage it.

Women travellers

Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered a friendly place for female travellers, for whom it is safe to walk at late at night on your own. That does not mean there aren’t potential dangers; you should always take precautions when travelling. Avoid travelling alone if possible and it is always best to walk in lit areas. Take precautions when choosing taxis as well by using official taxi services and finding a cab at an official stand.

LGBTQ+ travellers

The Balkans, although having made significant strides in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, are still rather conservative, so you should take a low-key approach to travelling. If with a partner, it’s best to act as friends and present yourself as such unless in comfortable and trusted company. Be careful of public shows of affection in clubs. Reactions to LGBTQ+ people can unfortunately be provocative and there have been a few cases of violence in the past though there have been some recent positive developments.

Travelling with a disability

Although the war has created literally thousands of disabled people, access routes to buildings, pavements, street crossings and public transport pay little or no attention to the needs of the disabled. The same goes for a lot of hotels and restaurants. There will usually be a kind person to assist you but don’t count on there being disability-friendly infrastructure. It can be a frustrating experience trying to get around BiH.

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