If you missed the reference, be prepared. Especially when it comes to personal health.
As part of my preparation for this trip, I need to be poked like a human pincushion with a range of vaccines. The list begins with acronyms for a range of "routine" adult vaccines that I should already have, which include Tdap (diptheria, tetanus and pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), and polio. The country-specific vaccines include Hep A/B, typhoid, meningococcal meningitis, seasonal flu, and yellow fever. (More on the yellow fever vaccine in a later post.)
I'm also supposed to carry a needle kit for the possibility that I need an IV drip or other medical care, since you can't guarantee that single-use needles will actually be on their first use. Access to typical OTC drugs will likely be limited, too, necessitating a fully-stocked med kit. (Luckily, I'm OCD enough to carry one of those on my trips to the more developed world.)
In addition to the vaccinations and other precautions, I'll need to take Malarone, an anti-malarial drug, as a preventive measure for the entire time I'm there. I'm happy to report that I took it back in 2006 during a two-week trip to South Africa with no ill effects, so let's hope the 7-month duration is fine, too.
Earlier this week I was reminded of how important these precautions are. An email from my GSK health care practitioner, who told me my 8-month supply of Malarone has been authorized, was followed by an email from my US-based program director, who is over Ghana now, where my in-country supervisor has come down with malaria.