The Bahamas' medical facilities are comparable to those in the United States. However, medical treatment isn't always readily available for some risks associated with visiting the islands.
These include sunburn, sunstroke, and sickness caused by ingesting foreign food and beverages such as rum punches, exotic fruits, and shellfish. However, these medical ailments can be avoided with proper precaution. In particular, food served at resorts is usually not a health concern because it is freshly prepared.
Local tap water is safe to drink in the Bahamas, but the taste sometimes alarms travelers because it tends to be a bit salty in most places. If you prefer, bottled water is widely available.
Visitors who are arriving from a location contaminated with yellow fever must present a vaccination certificate. No other immunizations are required, but vaccinations for diphtheria, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and typhoid are recommended.
If you are traveling with prescription medications, make sure they are packed in their original container (no pill boxes), and clearly labeled. On top of that, make sure you pack your prescription slip or a note from your physician explaining your need for the medication. This will prevent your medication from being confiscated as you travel through customs.
While medical emergencies are not likely to occur during your trip to the Bahamas, a small health concern such as a headache may arise. By packing a Travel Medical Kit, you will be prepared in the event such a concern arises. Be sure to include the following in your kit:
All told, there are approximately 50 medical facilities are located throughout the Bahamas. If you have a medical emergency in the Bahamas, dial 911 (919 in the Out Islands). For medical conditions that do not require emergency treatment, visit one of the following facilities:
Princess Margaret Hospital
Shirley Street, P.O. Box N-3730
New Providence, Nassau, Bahamas
Rand Memorial Hospital
East Atlantic Drive, P.O. Box F-40071
Freeport, Grand Bahama
Emergency flight services are available if necessary from both of these facilities.
Some of the major cities, such as Nassau, Cable Beach, and Freeport/Lucaya, house many medical practices that are privately owned and operated while others are government-run facilities. With so many options, it is best to ask for local advice about a particular physician. Ask a local resident or consult your hotel concierge for a list of suggested doctors or dentists. Most of the larger hotels and resorts also have a doctor on-call solely to attend to guests needs.
Medical expenses can be costly. Check with your insurance provider about coverage in foreign nations. Depending on your current health insurance policy, you may need to add a provision for travel-related medical expenses before visiting the Bahamas. Unfortunately, many doctors and hospitals in the Bahamas do not take U.S. medical insurance. Therefore, make sure you have cash on hand if necessary. It is then your responsibility to seek reimbursement from your insurance provider after returning to the U.S.
No one wants to think about falling ill when they visit the Bahamas, but occasionally it does happen. When you arrive prepared for any eventuality, you will know how to handle health-related issues when they arise.
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