Democratic Republic of The Congo - Travel Advice
Learn more about Democratic Republic of The Congo Travel Health Insurance with an overview from the CDC and the US State Department. Here we cover Vaccines, Medicines and Insurance.
At AARDY we can’t recommend travel insurance enough. Whether you are just traveling a few hundred miles from home to see family, or traveling to the other side of the world, travel insurance should be considered an essential part of your holiday packing. The hope is that you won’t have to use your travel insurance, and that you’ll have a fun and enjoyable trip. The following advice should help you make the most of your trip to Democratic Republic of The Congo.
Democratic Republic of The Congo Travel Health – CDC
You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Some vaccines may also be required for travel.
Vaccines and Medicines
Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Required for arriving travelers from all countries if traveler is ≥9 months of age. Recommended for all travelers ≥9 months of age. Note: Yellow fever vaccine availability in the United States is currently limited. If you need to be vaccinated before your trip, you may need to travel some distance and schedule your appointment well in advance. Find the clinic nearest you.
Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of these diseases in the country you are visiting.
You may need a polio vaccine before your trip to Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- If you were vaccinated against polio as a child but have never had a polio booster dose as an adult, you should get this booster dose. Adults need only one polio booster in their lives.
- If you were not completely vaccinated as a child or do not know your vaccination status, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated.
CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Democratic Republic of The Congo, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
You will need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria. Your doctor can help you decide which medicine is right for you, and also talk to you about other steps you can take to prevent malaria. See more detailed information about malaria in the Democratic Republic of The Congo.
You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Democratic Republic of The Congo. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US.
CDC recommends this vaccine for adults who are traveling to areas of active cholera transmission. Areas of active cholera transmission include the regions of Salamat (last case reported December 2017) of Chile. Cholera is rare in travelers but can be severe. Certain factors may increase the risk of getting cholera or having severe disease. (More Information). Avoiding unsafe food and water and washing your hands can also prevent cholera.
You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.
Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in the Democratic Republic of The Congo, so CDC recommends this vaccine for the following groups:
- Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites (such as adventure travel and caving).
- People who will be working with or around bats (such as wildlife professionals and researchers).
- People who are taking long trips or moving to Democratic Republic of The Congo
- Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.
Note: Zika is a risk in Democratic Republic of The Congo. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Therefore, pregnant women should not travel to Democratic Republic of The Congo. Partners of pregnant women and couples planning pregnancy should know the possible risks to pregnancy and take preventative steps (more information)
Stay Health and Safe
Learn actions you can take to stay healthy and safe on your trip. Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in Democratic Republic of The Congo, so your behaviors are important.
Eat and Drink Safely
Unclean food and water can cause travelers' diarrhea and other diseases. Reduce your risk by sticking to safe food and water habits.
- Food that is cooked and served hot
- Hard-cooked eggs
- Fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself
- Pasteurized dairy products
- Food served at room temperature
- Food from street vendors
- Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
- Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
- Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- ”Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)
- Bottled water that is sealed
- Water that has been disinfected
- Ice made with bottled or disinfected water
- Carbonated drinks
- Hot coffee or tea
- Pasteurized milk
- Tap or well water
- Ice made with tap or well water
- Drinks made with tap or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
- Unpasteurized milk
Talk with your doctor about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs with you on your trip in case you get sick.
Prevent bug bites
Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in Democratic Republic of The Congo. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites. What can I do to prevent bug bites?
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below) .
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
- Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
What type of insect repellent should I use?
- FOR PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND MOSQUITOES: Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
FOR PROTECTION AGAINST MOSQUITOES ONLY: Products with one of the following active ingredients can also help prevent mosquito bites. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection.
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD
- Always use insect repellent as directed.
What should I do if I am bitten by bugs?
- Avoid scratching bug bites, and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce the itching.
- Check your entire body for ticks after outdoor activity. Be sure to remove ticks
What can I do to avoid bed bugs?
Although bed bugs do not carry disease, they are an annoyance. See our information page about avoiding bug bites for some easy tips to avoid them. For more information on bed bugs, see Bed Bugs. For more detailed information on avoiding bug bites, see Avoid Bug Bites.
Note: Zika is a risk in Democratic Republic of The Congo. For more information, see Zika Travel Information.
Stay safe outdoors
If your travel plans in **Democratic Republic of The Congoinclude outdoor activities, take these steps to stay safe and healthy during your trip.**
- Stay alert to changing weather conditions and adjust your plans if conditions become unsafe.
- Prepare for activities by wearing the right clothes and packing protective items, such as bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit.
- Consider learning basic first aid and CPR before travel. Bring a travel health kit with items appropriate for your activities.
Heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, can be deadly. Eat and drink regularly, wear loose and lightweight clothing, and limit physical activity during high temperatures.
- If you are outside for many hours in heat, eat salty snacks and drink water to stay hydrated and replace salt lost through sweating.
- Protect yourself from UV radiation: use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during the hottest time of day (10 a.m.–4 p.m.).
- Be especially careful during summer months and at high elevation. Because sunlight reflects off snow, sand, and water, sun exposure may be increased during activities like skiing, swimming, and sailing.
- Very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Dress in layers and cover heads, hands, and feet properly if you are visiting a cold location.
Stay safe around water
- Swim only in designated swimming areas. Obey lifeguards and warning flags on beaches.
- Practice safe boating—follow all boating safety laws, do not drink alcohol if driving a boat, and always wear a life jacket.
- Do not dive into shallow water.
- Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
- Avoid swallowing water when swimming. Untreated water can carry germs that make you sick.
- To prevent infections, wear shoes on beaches where there may be animal waste.
Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection that can be spread in fresh water, is found in the Democratic Republic of The Congo. Avoid swimming in fresh, unchlorinated water, such as lakes, ponds, or rivers.
Keep away from animals
Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases such as rabies. Follow these tips to protect yourself:
- Do not touch or feed any animals you do not know.
- Do not allow animals to lick open wounds, and do not get animal saliva in your eyes or mouth.
- Avoid rodents and their urine and feces.
- Traveling pets should be supervised closely and not allowed to come in contact with local animals.
- If you wake in a room with a bat, seek medical care immediately. Bat bites may be hard to see.
All animals can pose a threat, but be extra careful around dogs, bats, monkeys, sea animals such as jellyfish, and snakes. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, immediately:
- Wash the wound with soap and clean water.
- Go to a doctor right away.
- Tell your doctor about your injury when you get back to the United States.
Consider buying medical evacuation insurance. Rabies is a deadly disease that must be treated quickly, and treatment may not be available in some countries.
Reduce your exposure to germs
Follow these tips to avoid getting sick or spreading illness to others while traveling:
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
- If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home or in your hotel room, unless you need medical care.
Avoid sharing body fluids
Diseases can be spread through body fluids, such as saliva, blood, vomit, and semen. Protect yourself:
- Use latex condoms correctly.
- Do not inject drugs.
- Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
- Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture.
- If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized.
Know how to get medical care while traveling
Plan for how you will get health care during your trip, should the need arise:
- Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at your destination.
- Review your health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during your trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
- Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications you take.
- Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call the Democratic Republic of The Congo embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.
- Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to.
Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website (www.jointcommissioninternational.org).
In some countries, medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) may be substandard or counterfeit. Bring the medicines you will need from the United States to avoid having to buy them at your destination.
Malaria is a risk in Democratic Republic of The Congo. Fill your malaria prescription before you leave and take enough with you for the entire length of your trip. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the pills; some need to be started before you leave.
Select safe transportation
Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries. In many places cars, buses, large trucks, rickshaws, bikes, people on foot, and even animals share the same lanes of traffic, increasing the risk for crashes.
Be smart when you are traveling on foot.
- Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks.
- Pay attention to the traffic around you, especially in crowded areas.
- Remember, people on foot do not always have the right of way in other countries.
Choose a safe vehicle.
- Choose official taxis or public transportation, such as trains and buses.
- Ride only in cars that have seatbelts.
- Avoid overcrowded, overloaded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
- Avoid riding on motorcycles or motorbikes, especially motorbike taxis. (Many crashes are caused by inexperienced motorbike drivers.)
- Choose newer vehicles—they may have more safety features, such as airbags, and be more reliable.
- Choose larger vehicles, which may provide more protection in crashes.
Think about the driver.
- Do not drive after drinking alcohol or ride with someone who has been drinking.
- Consider hiring a licensed, trained driver familiar with the area.
- Arrange payment before departing.
Follow basic safety tips.
- Wear a seatbelt at all times.
- Sit in the back seat of cars and taxis.
- When on motorbikes or bicycles, always wear a helmet. (Bring a helmet from home, if needed.)
- Avoid driving at night; street lighting in certain parts of Democratic Republic of The Congo may be poor.
- Do not use a cell phone or text while driving (illegal in many countries).
- Travel during daylight hours only, especially in rural areas.
- If you choose to drive a vehicle in Democratic Republic of The Congo, learn the local traffic laws and have the proper paperwork.
- Get any driving permits and insurance you may need. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Carry the IDP and a US-issued driver's license at all times.
- Check with your auto insurance policy's international coverage, and get more coverage if needed. Make sure you have liability insurance.
- Avoid using local, unscheduled aircraft.
- If possible, fly on larger planes (more than 30 seats); larger airplanes are more likely to have regular safety inspections.
- Try to schedule flights during daylight hours and in good weather.
Medical Evacuation Insurance
If you are seriously injured, emergency care may not be available or may not meet US standards. Trauma care centers are uncommon outside urban areas. Having medical evacuation insurance can be helpful for these reasons.
Road Safety Overseas (Information from the US Department of State): Includes tips on driving in other countries, International Driving Permits, auto insurance, and other resources. The Association for International Road Travel has country-specific Road Travel Reports available for most countries for a minimal fee.
Maintain personal security
Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home, and always stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
Before you leave
- Research your destination(s), including local laws, customs, and culture.
- Monitor travel warnings and alerts and read travel tips from the US Department of State.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.
- Pack as light as possible, and leave at home any item you could not replace.
While at your destination(s)
- Carry contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate.
- Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
- Follow all local laws and social customs.
- Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
- Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
- If possible, choose hotel rooms between the 2nd and 6th floors.
Healthy Travel Packing List
Use the Healthy Travel Packing List for Democratic Republic of The Congo for a list of health-related items to consider packing for your trip. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.
Why does CDC recommend packing these health-related items?
It’s best to be prepared to prevent and treat common illnesses and injuries. Some supplies and medicines may be difficult to find at your destination, may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use.
After Your Trip
If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling. If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history. For more information on what to do if you are sick after your trip, see Getting Sick after Travel.
Democratic Republic of The Congo Travel Health – The US State Department
U.S.- DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO RELATIONS
The United States established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) in 1960, following its independence from Belgium. Post-independence, the country saw a mix of unrest, rebellion, secession movements, a long dictatorship, armed conflict, and foreign intervention, including on the D.R.C.’s territory. The D.R.C.’s last protracted conflict, commonly known as Africa’s World War (1998-2003), involved nine African countries and resulted in a death toll of an estimated 5 million people in the D.R.C. from the fighting and ensuing humanitarian crisis. In January 2001, Laurent Kabila, who led the rebel movement that overthrew the 32-year regime of Mobuto Sese Seko in 1997, was assassinated and his son, Joseph Kabila, was named head of state. The D.R.C. held multiparty elections in 2006 and 2011. The presidential elections, which should have been held in 2016, are now scheduled to take place in December 2018. These elections would result in the D.R.C.’s first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history, as President Kabila is prohibited from running for a third term under the D.R.C.’s constitution.
Regional stability and security is dependent on durable peace in the D.R.C., as it is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, borders nine other nations, and is home to substantial natural resource wealth, including an estimated $25 trillion in mineral reserves. The country faces challenges, including inadequate infrastructure and human resources; the government’s inability to project authority across the sizable country; rampant corruption; a limited capacity to raise and manage revenues; outbreaks of Ebola, cholera, polio, and other health concerns; and presence of numerous armed groups, particularly in eastern D.R.C.. The United Nations has maintained a peacekeeping presence in the D.R.C. for 23 of the 58 years since the country's independence in 1960. The mandate for the UN’s current peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, was renewed in March 2018 with a troop ceiling of 16,215 military personnel.
U.S. relations with the D.R.C. are deep and longstanding. U.S. foreign policy in the D.R.C. is focused on supporting the country to uphold democratic processes and effective governance, promoting stability and peace within the country and with its neighbors, improving the rule of law to strengthen state authority across its territory, and developing institutions that are accountable and responsive to the basic needs of its citizens. The State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs leads U.S. engagement aimed at supporting a peaceful democratic transfer of power following the December 2018 elections and addressing the root causes of conflict and instability in the region. The United States is the D.R.C.’s largest bilateral donor and the single largest financial contributor to MONUSCO.
U.S. Assistance to Democratic Republic of The Congo
The D.R.C.’s development and humanitarian needs are vast. The U.S. government is the largest bilateral donor in the D.R.C., with approximately $500 million in development and humanitarian programming per year. U.S. assistance supports a more stable, democratic nation through improving the capacity and governance of core national-level institutions, creating economic opportunities, responding to urgent humanitarian needs, and addressing the root causes of conflict. The United States has also served as a lead donor to the recent Ebola outbreaks in the D.R.C..
The United States remains the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of the D.R.C., providing more than $87 million for the D.R.C. and Congolese refugees since FY 2017, representing approximately 50 percent of all humanitarian assistance in the D.R.C.. USAID provides life-saving food, safe drinking water, emergency medical care, critical nutrition services, improved hygiene and sanitation conditions, psychosocial services and other support for vulnerable children, as well as essential household supplies for families who were forced to flee violence and leave everything behind. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) supports countrywide protection programs and multi-sector assistance, including gender-based violence prevention and response, targeting refugees and conflict victims in the D.R.C.. U.S. government FY 2017 development assistance to D.R.C. totaled $317 million. USAID development assistance integrates programs in education, stabilization, democracy and governance, health, social protection, and economic growth. The United States also works to promote Security Sector Reform (SSR), with an emphasis on professionalization of the armed forces, human rights, and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) prevention, as well as improving the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the civilian justice system.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Leading U.S. exports to the D.R.C. include pharmaceutical products, poultry, machinery, used clothing, and wheat. The top U.S. import from the D.R.C. is copper, accounting for over 50% of D.R.C.’s total exports to the United States. Other leading D.R.C. exports to the United States include antiques, diamonds, coffee and coffee beans, propane, and tantalum. The two countries have signed a bilateral investment treaty. The United States also has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which the D.R.C. is a member.
Democratic Republic of The Congo’s Membership in International Organizations
The D.R.C. and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
Democratic Republic of The Congo maintain an embassy in the United States at 1100 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036: tel. 202-234-7690.