Family Travel Clinic


While Singapore itself is relatively free of certain tropical diseases, the surrounding areas (e.g. Malaysia and Indonesia) are not. It is therefore important to be aware of health issues related to regional and international travel.


Vaccinations provide protection against diseases you might be exposed to during travel. For many countries, no vaccinations are necessary apart from booster doses of those generally given during childhood (i.e. polio, tetanus, diphtheria and possibly measles). Hepatitis A and B vaccinations are also advisable. On the other hand, a number of more exotic vaccines may be recommended for those venturing off the beaten path. Vaccinations are not the only reason to see a doctor before travelling. On average, about 30-80% of travellers to developing countries will suffer a travel-related illness, some with potentially serious consequences.


Drinking and Eating Safely

Where sanitation is poor, drinking water or food can easily become contaminated with organisms that have unpleasant effects on our gut. Travellers need to be more careful with their personal hygiene habits when staying in less developed areas than when they are at home in a safer environment. A simple and effective way of decreasing the ingestion of unwanted organisms is to wash hands prior to eating.


Other rules of drinking and eating safely include:



1) Assume all water is contaminated (this does not apply in Singapore). 
2) Never use ice unless you know it has been made from safe water. 
3) Boil water for 5-10 minutes. This is the most effective way to make sure water is safe.
4) Water can also be chemically disinfected - a less satisfactory but often more practical way of treating water.
5) If safe water is unavailable, use bottled or canned fluids.
6) Use clean water to brush teeth.



Do not eat the following:
1) uncooked, undercooked or reheated food; 
2) uncooked fruits or vegetables that you do not prepare yourself; 
3) ice cream (unless it is an internationally packaged and labelled brand) and dairy products; 
4) oysters, clams, mussels, barbequed prawns or mud-crabs; 
5) cooked food which has been left at room temperature or exposed to flies; and 
6) dishes requiring a lot of handling to prepare.


Do eat the following:
1) freshly cooked (fried, boiled, steamed) food;
2) peelable fruits (bananas, citrus fruits, etc);
3) food of acceptable brands in cans or sealed packs;
4) food in well patronised, busy restaurants serving local food;
5) food off clean plates with clean cutlery; and
6) food prepared by yourself.


Travel Medicine Consultation

A doctor's consultation is required prior to vaccinations being administered or medications being provided. Issues that should be discussed at this time include eating and drinking safely, mosquito avoidance measures, pre-existing medical problems, and the need for prescription drugs. Medical advice should be sought at least 4-6 weeks before departure.  If travelling for a long period of time or if you will be resident overseas, you should seek medical advice 6 months prior to departure.