Addis Ababa - Post Report Question and Answers
Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
We got sick once a week and I ran to the bathroom more than I care to remember. You just kind of get used to the intestinal issues. Peanut butter and Gatorade were my friends on this tour. - Feb 2021
Lots. Currently COVID is on the increase and many, many illnesses are here that you would not come across in your home country. Travel vaccinations and a full childhood vaccination sheet are a necessity for Ethiopia. Stomach problems are endemic. Bring ant-diarrhea meds. Sachets of rehydration solution are readily available. - Aug 2020
Most medical issues require a medevac to Pretoria or London. - Mar 2020
I've been told we are the #1 post for digestive issues. Not sure if that distinction is true, but all will experience tummy trouble. The water is contaminated with metals and bacteria. We drink and brush out teeth with distilled water. All fruits and vegetables must be washed to disinfect. Never eat salad at a restaurant. Most embassies have a list of local doctors/dentists, but it is preferred that you do your check ups/cleanings at home. Car accidents are very common and can cause injury. Driving outside the city is especially dangerous, as they follow no rules, pass on blind curves and speed. I've heard drivers also tend to be high on Khat. Within the city people walk out into the streets without looking, drivers will just take your space on the road, lane markers are just a suggestion and cars are poorly maintained. Assaults are on the rise in the city, as is the risk of injury. - Feb 2020
We've been sick here often. There are always stomach problems that might be caused by food or water. There's so much air pollution that I think this also affects our immune systems. In more severe instances, we've gone to the Swiss Clinic for help and have been thankful for that. The embassy is far from our home so if we had an emergency it would be difficult to get there in time. We've been lucky so far and haven't needed much medical care. I think almost any serious medical condition would need evacuation from here! Stress and even mild depression is a major health concern here for many people. It's a tough place to live when you see so many Ethiopians struggling to survive on a daily basis and feel almost helpless in it all. - Feb 2019
Medical care is not good. For anything serious, go abroad. I wouldn't want to undergo anything that would require full anesthesia in Addis. - Oct 2018
Check CDC website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ethiopia. Medical care is poor. Embassy Med Unit has vaccines and staff to support. Staffing levels vary on timing and the availability of EFMs to apply for work.
If you are not with the US Embassy, it is my understanding you will need to go outside of Ethiopia for vaccines. The country keeps only those for 9 months old children and younger. Very limited. - Aug 2018
There are a couple of good western operated hospitals, the Nordic and Swedish hospitals. Overseas trained local doctors are available. I do not know specifically what conditions require medical evaluation, but sounds like there are enough of it.
Health concerns do come with living here for sure. Food poisoning, sickness due to water-borne illness/sanitation issues, skin disease transmitted by people, bug bites, etc.; not just one or two, some people can get more than 20 bites a day, to respiratory issues, dental emergency. You do not want to have any serious injuries. I heard that there was insulin shortage in the country. Local medicine is quite inexpensive. - Jul 2018
Medical care is terrible, if there is any issues you will get medical evacuation. most likely to South Africa. All hygiene is a big problem here, and the water is not clean. - Jan 2018
Medical care here is not good, and folks are regularly medically evacuated for anything more than routine colds and GI issues. Between the rainy season and poor sanitation, you will get both of those often. On the bright side, Addis is too high up for malaria, so you will only need anti-malarials when traveling out of town. - Sep 2017
We don't have kids here so I can't speak to that and we are generally pretty health so I've only used the medical folks once (serious food poisoning); they are busy and I think there are rotating physicians so if you are looking for some intimate relationship with a health care provider, forget it. You can get basic vaccines and I think basic meds. Medical conditions to be wary of: malaria (not in Addis but below 2100 meters), dengue (in Addis there have been outbreaks), cholera (currently, big outbreak although the GOE insisted on calling it "acute water diarrhea" because I guess the optic of "cholera outbreak" made them look bad...?), rabies (dogs, monkeys, cats for sure) - get vaccinated before you come, allergies/respiratory stuff; and of course...GI issues. Do not think you will come here and somehow avoid this..you WILL get sick the question is really around the frequency. I've been traveling in developing countries for 11 years and Ethiopia is the only place that no matter what, I would somehow get sick. Now that I live here? You do the math. The embassy recently started testing the air quality for particulate matter, etc. Apparently, we are worse than Beijing and Delhi. If I had children and/or respiratory problems (asthma, COPD, history of smoking), I would not come to this post. - Aug 2016
Medical care is not really available, nor is what is available of reasonable quality here. Everything requires evac - dental procedures, maternity, just about everything.
Med unit often treats with antibiotics without testing, because testing for even common things is not available here. GOE very sensitive about optics, so even epidemics remain largely unreported. Currently there is an outbreak of cholera in Addis, but only recently has the mission issued directives or given the community notice. - Aug 2016
Everyone has bouts of food poisoning. Air quality can exacerbate respiratory issues. Medical care is pretty sub-par. Anything more specific than what a family practitioner can handle will generally result in a medevac to South Africa. - Feb 2016
Avoid the water, wash the produce. Everybody seems to catch a stomach bug at some point, "a touch of Addis" some call it! - May 2014
Medical care is a bit spooky here. Have a robust first aid kit and knowledge of how to use it. Also, it is essential to have a solid understand of medevac procedures and emergency numbers. Europe or U.S. for serious stuff, Nairobi or Pretoria for not so serious issues. Dental care is cheap and excellent in Pretoria, so if your crown is going to break, plan on that happening here and go to Pretoria - it's a fraction of the cost of dental work in the U.S. I got a cleaning, a replacement crown digitally photographed/porcelain, one filling, and a mouth guard made in ONE visit in ONE day at a great dentist in Pretoria. Cost was about 800 bucks (not including airfare/hotel). You can replace fillings safely in Addis Ababa for cheap, but some are too nervous to do so, perhaps with good reason, so do your research. I'm always worried about our kids getting hurt here. I am not comfortable with anything other than stabilizing at the local hospitals. The health unit at the Embassy is great. - Jan 2014
Poor quality health care. Embassy personnel get medical evacuations for anything serious, or ANY dentistry. Most common concern is stomach issues from ingesting unclean food. At home, all veggies and fruits get the bleach treatment. - Nov 2013
Medical care is getting more spotty. One popular clinic that expats visit may be shutting down soon. - Jun 2012
All the usual 3rd-world stuff, minus the nasty malaria. - Aug 2010
By far the biggest issue is food sanitation - people here seem to suffer from stomach maladies more than in any country I have ever visited. Altitude is also an issue, and some people have respiratory problems from pollution. There is no malaria in Addis. There are limited medical facilities available in Addis - most expats travel to Kenya or South Africa for all but the most routine medical issues. - Jun 2010
The quality of medical care is improving but it's still nowhere near U.S. standards. The Embassy provides pretty good healthcare but it's limited to mission personnel only. - Mar 2008