Better Ways to Stay Healthy in Asian Tropics - with special reference to Sri Lanka.
The advice in this booklet is written with particular reference to Sri Lanka but will help visitors to anywhere in the Asian tropics to stay healthy by adhering to simple guidelines.
Humanitarian organisations may like to add this booklet to the briefing pack of those planning a visit to tropical Asia to optimise the efficiency of their teams.
These guidelines are intended for expatriate tourists, volunteers and humanitarian workers who are visiting tropical Asia or Sri Lanka in particular. They will also be useful to local urban residents who are moving to rural and less developed areas for prolonged periods of time. The booklet is not intended to provide a therapeutic solution to serious illness. It gives advice and information that will help you to keep healthy.
The authors have lived and worked for many years in Africa, India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere in Asia. So the hazards mentioned in this document are based on real experiences of living in rough and rural areas. Every effort has been made to make sure that the contents of this book are in accordance with modern medical practice. For the benefit of those who will not read the whole document, some general advice is given in Section 7 with more practical details in Section 9. However, in the search for simplicity, much detail has been omitted. Hopefully this approach will make the information easily available to the lay reader. Further information sources are given at the front. Neither of the authors can accept any responsibility for health problems that may arise from the application of the information provided.
So this booklet is not for the advanced student. Nor is it a substitute for professional clinical advice when sickness causes inconvenience or incapacitation. If readers experience health problems, hopefully they will gain a better understanding of both their illness and treatments should the former still emerge after taking all possible precautions.
Background Information About Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a typical tropical country. There are wet and dry seasons, but the picture is complicated by the fact that there are two monsoons:
May to August - the south-west monsoon brings rain to the southern, western coastal regions and the central hill country.
October to January - the north-east monsoon rains on the opposite side and also across the hilly area. Kandy, at a higher altitude, catches both and so it is almost always lush, and cooler than Colombo.
Geology, geography, latitude, climate and biological history combine to make Sri Lanka tropical. This has implications for health; all the diseases of the West are here with tropical diseases as well! The main causes of sickness and death are diarrhoea, respiratory infections, dengue fever, diabetes and malaria (but not as much now as earlier). The bright side is that, for nature lovers, the biodiversity here is among the richest on the planet.
The country is divided into wet and dry zones. Colombo, Kandy, Galle form a triangular wet zone from which malaria is generally absent: the rest of the country is dry and formerly malarious (bet you thought it would be the other way round!). Now the risks are far less. But avoid being bitten by using impregnated bed nets, light coloured clothes that cover arms and legs especially in the evenings, insect repellents (DEET, or Citronella which is not as long lasting), mosquito coils or mats, and keep taking any tablets your doctor ordered. Nevertheless, in spite of the additional risks to health, the expectation of life in Sri Lanka (early seventies) is said to be almost the same as that of the UK (late seventies). Based on a little science and a lot of common sense, you can be as healthy here, if not healthier, than you could be in a temperate climate.