With Dr Felicity Nicholson
Since there is no state health service in Switzerland, nor reciprocal agreements for free treatment with other countries, it is imperative that you take out health insurance, especially if you are taking part in sports or mountain walking. Switzerland has very high standards of hygiene, so neither food nor tap water should pose any hazard, but it is not advisable to drink from mountain streams, however clear they may look.
In parts of the country, the mosquitoes can gather in rather dense clouds during the summer. Apply a DEET-based product to prevent being bitten and consider a hat with a net to keep them away from your nose and eyes.
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.nathnac.org/ds/map_world.aspx (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.
Travelling with a disability
Switzerland caters well for someone travelling with a disability. Far fewer stations need hoists to elevate a wheelchair from a low platform thanks to the raising of platform heights. There is a large and exemplary section in English on the Swiss Federal Railways website (sbb.ch/en) devoted to helping passengers with disabilities. Click on ‘Station & Services’. Hotels of three stars and above can be expected to have lifts.
Provision for disabled access inevitably varies widely on mountain cableways and railways. Chairlifts and gondola lifts, which are usually boarded while in continuous motion, are obviously difficult if not impossible, but modern or rebuilt cable cars can sometimes accept wheelchairs.