Health:

NB: Make sure that you have adequate travel insurance that will cover you for health emergencies, including unscheduled seaplane/speedboat transfers, doctor and hospital costs, and if you plan to dive, risks associated with diving.

Although there are no mandatory vaccinations, the UK NHS recommend that standard vaccinations are kept up to date ie: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, and Hepatitis.  The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta also lists Typhoid as 'recommended', alongside updated MMR, DTP and Hepatitis.  However, it is prudent that travellers should consult their own doctor about 8 weeks prior to travel, regarding what is necessary for them.  Visitors from other countries should refer to their own Govt recommendations, regarding these vaccinations.

http://www.nathnac.org/ds/c_pages/cou...

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel/asi...

http://www.mdtravelhealth.com/destina...

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinati...

 

Dengue Fever, for which there is no prophylaxis, is prevalent on Male the capital island, and on other local islands.  There have been reports of isolated cases of Dengue Fever on  Resort Islands, and there has been speculation that the mosquitoes on the airport island (Hulhumale) carry dengue fever.  It is therefore sensible for all visitors to protect themselves against mosquito bites at all times of the day and night as soon as they arrive in the Maldives.  Products containing at least 50% DEET are generally thought to be the most effective, but there are many other alternatives that travellers have found to be effective.  One that seems to have been missed in the following threads is Odomos.

 http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopi...

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopi...

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopi... 

Yellow Fever is not a problem in the Maldives but visitors from areas where there is Yellow Fever must have a current Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate. 

Malaria is not a problem in Maldives , and no Malarial prophylaxis is needed. 

Sunburn/sunstroke is not uncommon.  The Maldives straddle the equator and the intensity of the sun is often underestimated.  It is possible to suffer quite severe sunburn even when it is cloudy.  It is therefore advised that a high factor sunscreen (at least factor 30) is used at all times.  When snorkelling, it is sensible to ensure that all exposed areas are thoroughly coated with waterproof sunscreen, and the wearing of a T-shirt or rash vest is advised.

Dehydration can be another problem associated with the intense heat and humidity. Visitors should not underestimate the need for increased water intake during the day.  Tap water on the islands is produced by a desalination process.  Whilst it is safe to drink, many people do find it unpalatable.  Bottled water is readily available, but is usually charged for.

Tap water is safe for teeth cleaning and for making tea/coffee.

Hygiene standards on the resort islands are generally high and it is quite safe to have ice in drinks and to eat the many salads on offer.

Cuts and stings caused by brushing or scraping against coral can be very painful and take a long time to heal.  Corals are actually tiny living marine animals and many contain poisons.  Wounds caused by contact with corals often become infected.  Cuts and grazes should be washed thoroughly with fresh water, dried and then treated generously with antiseptic cream or ointment.  Some divers advocate the application of white vinegar.  Contact with some corals can result in a persistent and itchy rash.  Again, wash thoroughly with fresh water, dry and apply a soothing lotion.  Some people have found the use of antihistamine tablets helpful in controlling the itching.  Anemones are also poisonous and can cause very painful stings.   Soaking the sting in vinegar can help to relieve it, but medical attention should be sought as quickly as possible.  Take care to avoid stepping on Sea urchins as the long, sharp spines are difficult to remove once embedded in the foot.  Stonefish are very well camouflaged and difficult to spot on the sea bed and on the reef.  If stepped on, they inject venom into the foot that causes very severe pain and can be fatal.  It can take years to recover fully from a Stonefish attack.  The wound should immediately be bathed in very hot water and medical attention sought as a matter of urgency.  Stingrays often ‘bury’ themselves in the shallows of sandy lagoons and can become all but invisible.  If stepped on, the tail, which is barbed, is likely to whip up and cause a poisoned cut on the leg.  Treatment includes bathing the affected area with hot water, but medical assistance should also be sought quickly.  Avoid the possibility of being stung by ‘shuffling’ through shallow water as the disturbance will cause the creatures to swim away.

 Images of some of these can be found on this link:      http://www.mondomaldive.com/fish_dang...

Avoid these problems by avoiding any contact with coral – do not stand on it, touch it, or try to swim over it unless it is clear that there is sufficient clearance.  Do not touch any marine creature.

After snorkelling it is always advisable to ensure that ears are rinsed thoroughly with fresh water to wash out any tiny marine organisms which might otherwise give rise to an ear infection.  A proprietary product called “SwimEar” is useful for ensuring ears are thoroughly dry after rinsing.

Given the geographical nature of the Maldives it is not surprising that access to medical care is not easy for tourists.  Some resort islands have a resident doctor, but as a general rule, s/he is only able to offer enhanced First Aid.  Each atoll has either a Medical Centre or a small hospital on a local island, and there are 2 hospitals on Male.  Resort Islands without a resident doctor have a First Aid box. 

·         Pack essential prescribed medicines in hand luggage in case hold luggage is delayed.  Bring a copy of any prescriptions in case there are questions from the Customs staff at the airport.

·         Ensure sufficient quantities are packed as it will be extremely difficult to obtain replacement medicines should any be lost for whatever reason.

·         Pack a comprehensive First Aid box.  The resort shop may stock some very basic medicines (eg painkillers) and mosquito repellents, but this cannot be guaranteed and will be at an inflated price.

Safety:

The Maldives are generally reckoned to be one of the safest of holiday destinations, but thefts from rooms and of items left on the beach do occasionally occur.  It is sensible to ensure that rooms are kept locked, valuables are stored in the safe, money is hidden from view and that valuable cameras etc are not left on view on the beach.  When visiting a local island or the capital island, Male, do not flaunt valuable items and keep credit cards, money, mobile phones etc secured about your person.  Violent crime is extremely rare. 

The Maldives has experienced political unrest in recent months, but this has not affected life on the resort islands, and at the present time, it is considered perfectly safe for tourists to visit both local islands and Male.  However, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office  ( June 2012) advises visitors to Male to ‘stay alert, exercise caution and avoid demonstrations and spontaneous gatherings.’  

The biggest threat to the safety of visitors comes from the Ocean.  The Indian Ocean is invitingly warm and full of wonderful things to see.  However, it is extremely easy to lose track of time and place when swimming or snorkelling.  It is much easier to swim out to a reef than to swim back to the shore!  The wearing of fins is always sensible, especially where currents may be strong. The weather and current can change very rapidly creating hazardous conditions for even the strongest swimmer or most experienced snorkeller.  Probably the three most important safety rules are:

·         Check with the Dive Centre re tides, currents and weather predictions before setting out.

·         Always swim/snorkel with a companion.

·         Do not venture into deep water unless you are a strong swimmer.  Wearing a flotation vest can enhance the snorkelling experience for weaker swimmers, but should not be relied upon in poor conditions.

Further safety tips are included in the following forum threads.

 http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopi...

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopi...

The wearing of a whistle to attract attention if in difficulties has also been suggested, although it has been noted that some people use this to direct the attention of their snorkel partner to an interesting sight, thereby causing anxiety for people on the beach.  It is therefore important that the whistle should only be used for the purpose intended ie: to attract attention in the case of an emergency.