The health risks in Sri Lanka are different from those encountered in Europe and North America. Watch out for bowel diseases such as diarrhoea and amoebic dysentery, vector borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever and a variety of fungal infections. Sri Lanka’s physicians, many of whom have trained in the West, are particularly experienced in dealing with locally occurring diseases.
Before you go
No inoculations are compulsory unless you are coming from a yellow fever or cholera area. (Cholera is very occasionally reported in Sri Lanka, and therefore not considered a serious risk). However, the following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you are planning a long trip or intend to visit remote areas:
Typhoid (monovalent), Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies
Children should in addition be protected against diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles and rubella.
Remember to plan your vaccinations well ahead. Allow up to six weeks to receive the full course: some vaccinations require more than one dose, and some should not be given together.
The risk of malaria exists throughout the country apart from the districts of Colombo, Kalutara and Nuwara Eliya.
Drink bottled water only. Tap water is not safe to drink, and boiling and filtering is sometimes done too hastily.
Local Health Care
Minor health problems can always be treated by doctors with practices in the resorts and elsewhere in the country. If you have a more serious problem, Colombo has a number of modern, well-equipped private hospitals.
A growing number of foreigners are taking advantage of affordable, high-quality private healthcare in Sri Lanka, and combining it with the chance to take a holiday. Though the medical tourism industry in Sri Lanka is still in its early days, several private hospitals in Colombo are providing advanced surgery and other treatments to international clients.