The heath and health care in Laos can still be considered poor compared to the other neighboring countries. Poor sanitation and the existence of several tropical diseases further eroded the health of the population. Before traveling to Laos visitors should consider extra safety precaution. Some vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable disease and other diseases might be needed. It is necessary to consult your doctor or health-care provider for medical advice at least 3 weeks prior to departure.
Since Laos does not have sufficient health facilities it is adequate to make sure that your health insurance covers your medical expenses abroad if not consider getting a supplemental insurance for overseas coverage particularly evacuation. Most travelers obtain their medical care in Thailand. In case of evacuation travelers go to AEK International Hospital or Northern Eastern Wattana General Hospital both in Udonthani, Thailand. However, there are primary health care center in Vientiane in which foreigners can rely on – the private Centre Medical supported by French Embassy “Centre Medical de L’Ambassade de France” (CMAF) in Kouvieng Rd, Rue Simeuang (tel. +856 21 214150, +856 21 215713); and the primary government hospital in the country Mahosot Hospital, located in Fa Ngum Rd Kou Nyot (+856 21 214018, +856 21 214023).
There are numerous pharmacies in Laos most of them are well stocked with medicines from China, Thailand and Europe (particularly in Vientiane). Nevertheless, packing a personal medical kit is essential.
Except in Vientiane malaria and dengue exist throughout the country so best to discuss with your doctor the best way to avoid getting sick with such diseases. Take a prescription of anti-malarial drug, use insect repellent with 20-25% DEET content or 20% picaridin to expose skin, and wear long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites. Travelers who is planning to visit malarious areas may not have access to medical care and should bring along with them medications for emergency self-treatment if they suffering from malaria symptoms. Diseases such as Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies and Typhoid are also prevalent in Laos so vaccination is highly recommended.
To avoid jetlag or motion sickness travelers are advised to take appropriate measure such as taking a dosage of dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or Meclizine an hour or two before traveling. Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common travel-related ailment among travelers so bringing along an antibiotic and an antidiarrheal drug to be taken promptly if significant diarrhea occurs (defined as three or more loose stools in an 8 hour period particularly when its accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in stool).
Travelers must avoid using tap water for brushing teeth or drinking unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. It is advisable to have powdered or tinned milk rather than having unpasteurized milk and other dairy products that might have been from unpasteurized milk. Uncooked meat and fish should be avoided. Make sure that you only eat well-cooked meat and fish, vegetables should be cooked while fruits must be peeled.