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Iraq - Health and safety
With Dr Felicity Nicholson
As the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advises against travel to much of Iraq, you are unlikely to be able to purchase comprehensive medical insurance. However, there may be options for those travelling to Iraqi Kurdistan.
It is advisable to be up to date with all primary immunisations including tetanus, diphtheria and polio – an all-in-one vaccine (revaxis) lasts for 10 years. Vaccinations against hepatitis A and typhoid are also recommended for visitors to Iraq. Yellow fever vaccine is required for all travellers aged 6 months and over arriving from a yellow-fever-infected country in sub-Saharan Africa or South America but is not recommended or required otherwise. Vaccinations for rabies are advised for everyone, but are especially important for travellers visiting more remote areas, especially if you will be more than 24 hours away from medical help and definitely if you will be working with animals. The risk of malaria is present from May to November in the northern areas of Duhok, Erbil and Suleimaniya provinces. However, for most travellers the risk is considered to be too low to need to take antimalarials. Precautions against mosquitoes are strongly advised.
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.
There are parts of Iraq in which it is currently not safe to travel and in all parts of Iraq caution should be exercised by foreigners at all times. At the time of writing the FCO advises against all but essential travel to Iraq (except the Kurdistan region) and against all travel to the districts of Ramadi and Fallujah in Anbar Province due to reports of clashes between security forces and militants in parts of Anbar, including heavy fighting in Fallujah. For up-to-date security information, go to the FCO website. It is necessary for any foreigner travelling in Iraq to understand and be aware of the risks and dangers. These risks and dangers vary across the country.