A trip to Brazil exposes the traveller to some potential health risks, so it’s important to be informed. Firstly, wherever possible you should avoid getting bitten by insects. Many diseases, like malaria and dengue fever, are transmitted through insect bites. Protect yourself by using an effective insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts, trousers and a hat outdoors, and sleeping either in beds covered by nets treated with permethrin or in an air-conditioned or well-screened room.
Direct contact with animals can spread diseases like rabies or cause serious injury or illness. It is important to prevent animal bites and scratches and make sure you’re up to date with your tetanus vaccination. Note that even animals that look healthy can carry rabies or other diseases. Help children stay safe by supervising them carefully around all animals and if you are bitten or scratched wash the wound well with soap and water and go to a doctor immediately.
Diseases carried through food and water are the leading cause of illness in travellers to Brazil. To avoid this wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, use a hand disinfectant. Drink only bottled or boiled water and avoid tap water and ice cubes. Do not buy food from street vendors and make sure food is properly cooked before eating. You may find it useful to bring diarrhea medicine with you.
Car crashes are a leading cause of injury among travellers to Brazil. Protect yourself by not drinking and driving, always wearing a seat belt, and following local traffic laws. Avoid taking buses that are overloaded with passengers and driving at night.
By European standards public hospitals in Brazil are often short of medical equipment and staff, and long waiting lists for treatment are common. On top of this, most doctors in public hospitals do not speak English, which can be very stressful for a sick tourist or visitor requiring treatment. Today nearly 75 percent of Brazilian hospitals are in fact privately run and those that can afford will opt for this. Indeed private hospitals have superior equipment, staff and accommodation, especially in big cities like São Paulo.
Municipal hospitals are widely available, which provide free treatment including emergency services to everyone. But as a foreigner it is recommended that you take out private health insurance. In addition, you should make sure that your insurance plan allows you to choose English-speaking doctors or hospitals with English-speaking staff.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Sao Paulo is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Brazil. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in Brazil: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.
For more information on expat health insurance in Brazil, visit our partner APRIL International