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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Libya

Libya Health Care and Vaccinations

Title Special precautions
Yellow Fever No*
Typhoid Yes
Tetanus Yes
Rabies Sometimes
Malaria Sometimes
Hepatitis A Yes
Diphtheria Sometimes

* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers arriving from infected areas.

Health Care

If you get sick in Libya, you should be well-taken care of in the main cities, but for serious illnesses it would be wise to seek treatment outside of the country, such as in Egypt or Tunisia, where healthcare resources are better. There are pharmacies throughout Libya, although these will of course be better-stocked in Tripoli and Benghazi than in smaller towns. You may want to carry anti-diarrhoea medicine, antibiotics and a basic first aid kit with you when you travel, especially if you plan to visit remote areas where healthcare will be limited.

Always wear a seatbelt when you travel by road: not only is this the law, but road accidents are the most common cause of death among visitors to Libya. Check if your travel insurance will cover a visit to Libya; many companies will not insure you if you are travelling to a country that is not deemed safe by the British Foreign Office, or other national equivalent.

Under Gaddafi, healthcare in Libya was free, with some provision for private facilities for those who chose to pay. This was one benefit of the Gaddafi regime - another was education; even studies at college and at university comes without cost in Libya as a result.

However, the government invested a great deal of money in constructing large, fancy hospitals that it was never able to complete. You can still see the evidence of Gaddafi's overambitious healthcare policy if you visit Tripoli and Benghazi. In Benghazi, the largest hospital only operates on the lower floors; the higher floors, which have space for hundreds of beds, were never completed, meaning that the lower wards are crammed with beds instead. Many doctors in Libya complain about the dire healthcare situation. Medical training in the country is generally good, but there is still a lack of supplies and a lack of staff. Hundreds of Filipina and other foreign nurses left Libya during the revolution, and many have yet to return. Young doctors compete for graduate jobs.

Food and Drink

The water in Libya is relatively safe to drink but visitors are recommended to stick to widely available bottled water or to sterilise other water. Milk can be unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit should be peeled before eating.

Other Risks

Diarrhoeal diseases are common. Hepatitis A and B occur throughout the country, but are extremely rare. There is a rare chance of catching bilharzia (schistosomiasis) from paddling in stagnant fresh water, but the desert lakes are mostly salty. Very few cases of meningococcal meningitis have been reported in the Sebha region. Malaria is not common in the areas that travellers are most likely to visit, although there have been cases in the southern part of the country and close to the borders with Chad, Sudan and Niger.

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