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Medical advice for moving to Việt Nam

Update: September, 12/2016 - 09:00
Dr. Mathieu Nalpas.— Photo courtesy of Family Medical Practice Hanoi
Viet Nam News


by  Doctor Mathieu Nalpas

You are planning to move to Việt Nam, great ! But should your mum be worried about anything?

Moving to another country is a big change and must be taken very seriously, especially as far as health is concerned. You must prepare yourself and avoid trying to do everything at the last minute. You need planning and time, especially for vaccinations. (Hepatitis B vaccination, for example, needs 6 months to be fully completed.)

So, before you go what should you do ?

First, you should look for your vaccination booklet and get ready for a few additional shots. Make sure you are up to date with routine vaccines (diphteria-tetanos-polio-pertussis vaccine, measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine and annual flu vaccine, if you are at risk for respiratory disease). In Việt Nam, the possibility of contaminated water and food means hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines are recommended. If you stay long term, Japanese encephalitis and rabies vaccines are also recommended for those travelling in the countryside and remote areas of Việt Nam. And, of course, don’t forget to travel with your vaccination book.

You can visit your doctor for a basic medical check-up to make sure you are in good physical and psychological condition for the trip.

Do you know your blood type? This could be a good opportunity to look for it. Keep your blood type card with you.

If you have important medical history, or if you take medicine daily, prepare your own medical record with all the information doctors will need if anything happens to you. If you are on a specific drug treatment plan, make sure you will be able to find the right drug to restock your supply in Việt Nam.

Have you seen your dentist recently ? Even if your teeth are very good, a dental checkup once a year is a good habit. The dentist will probably be very happy to note that you are taking your oral hygiene so seriously! And if you have bad teeth, you should really fix them before you go.

Same for your skin. It is recommended to visit a dermatologist once a year, especially if you are light-skinned. In Vietnam the sun can burn and fair-skinned people are more susceptible to sunburn. Take care of your skin and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Before you move, you can get a travelers health consultation to get useful and up to date medical advice you need to know about your next destination. You can usually get your vaccinations during such consultations, too.

Good health insurance is important in case you need medical care or emergency evacuation. Health insurance usually doesn’t cover risks associated with STDs (sexual transmitted diseases), so check with your insurance and act responsibly for yourself and others.

Once in Việt Nam, drink a lot of water, prevent mosquito bites (dengue fever is common in Vietnam), eat and drink safely, keep good hygiene. Challenge yourself: quit smoking and exercise more. Vietnamese people love to exercise, join the team!

And don’t forget the primary cause of mortality among young people in Việt Nam (15 to 29 years old) is road accidents.The official traffic code is rarely respected and priority usually goes to bigger vehicle. First, buses and trucks; then cars, motorbikes and bicycles;and finally pedestrians.

Be very careful when walking on busy streets and when driving a motorbike. Driving a motorbike in Vietnam is sometimes like piloting a spaceship through an asteroid field. So stay cool and banish high speed, alcohol and cell phones, which are the most frequent causes of accidents. Remember to wear a good helmet if you drive 2-wheeled machines.

You’re finally ready to travel. You’re in Vietnam. Someone phones you. You pick up the phone. Mum? I’m fine! — Family Medical Practice Vietnam



Doctor Mathieu Nalpas specializes in general medicine. Before coming to Việt Nam, he practised general medicine in France, worked in isolated health clinics in French Guyana and New Caledonia and served humanitarian missions with Doctors without Borders in Kenya and France (in Calais and Grande Synthe refugee camps in northern France). Currently, Dr. Nalpas works as a GP at Family Medical Practice Hanoi - a branch of Family Medical Practice Vietnam. For more information or medical advice, please contact:



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