Health standards in Puerto Rico are generally comparable to the United States, and its medical facilities are among the finest in the Caribbean. There are physicians and hospitals in every city.
When you travel to Puerto Rico with prescription medications, it is important that you take a few careful steps to ensure an easy transition through customs. Make sure that each medication is contained in its original bottle. Avoid bringing the common "Day of the Week" pill boxes, because lack of proper markings can be cause for confiscation. Additionally, include a prescription slip from your doctor, both naming the pills and the conditions that make them necessary for you to take.
Seasoned travelers would also recommend that you pack in your checked luggage a Traveler's Medical Kit. This should include the following items:
Physicians: 1 doctor per 523 people
Hospital Beds: (1 per 381 people) (1993-94)
Infant Mortality Rate: 10.8 percent (1999 est.)
Some larger hotels and chains in Puerto Rico will have a doctor on call at all times. It is best that you have any paperwork from your own doctor if you may need it on your travels, including prescription information. For non-emergencies, check with the concierge at your hotel for medical assistance from the hotel physician or directions to a nearby facility.
For an ambulance, dial 911 immediately, just as you would in the United States. Hospitals and other medical facilities are abundant around the island and uphold comparable standards to those found on the U.S. mainland. Be sure to check whether your insurance policy covers medical expenses incurred while traveling, as well. If your insurance company does not provide sufficient coverage, you may want to obtain traveler's insurance before visiting.
For more information on specific hospitals, you can contact the "Departamento de Salud" (Department of Health) at 787-766-1616.
All people traveling to Puerto Rico should visit their physician or a health clinic four to eight weeks prior to departure. Puerto Rico requires its visitors to receive vaccinations for hepatitis A if they have no proof available. They recommend that all their visitors also receive vaccinations for hepatitis B and rabies. Tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and chicken pox are also among the other recommended vaccinations.
Milk is pasteurized, and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit, and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat, but remember to wash or peel produce before consumption.
Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), known in Spanish as the "Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados," handles the majority of Puerto Rico's extensive system of more than 10,000 miles of water mains and aqueducts and 2,000 miles of sewage lines. Puerto Rico's water quality is subject to the same regulated EPA standards that apply on the U.S. Mainland. Puerto Rico's top-notch medical facilities and high standards ensure visitors a healthy and safe island experience.
No one wants to think about falling ill during their Puerto Rico vacation, but it does happen, and it is best to know what to do in case something dire does occur. Don't invite Murphy on vacation with you by heading out with the assumption that nothing of concern is possible.
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