Egypt

You can't go to Egypt without seeing the Pyramids
You can't go to Egypt without seeing the Pyramids

The Pyramids of Giza are the biggest attraction for many who visit Egypt, while Karnak and the Great Sphinx of Giza are among the other stunning man-made accomplishments that have long seen tourists flock to Egypt.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to certain areas of Egypt, which extends to the Governorate of North Sinai.

The FCO otherwise advises against all but essential travel to:

  • Within 50km of the Libyan border
  • The Governorate of South Sinai
  • The area west of the Nile Valley and Delta Regions

It is imperative to investigate the safety guidelines of where you are planning to stay in Egypt before booking any flights or accommodation.

Getting to Egypt

Airplane is the only means of transportation for reaching Egypt, with non-stop flights between London to Cairo, for example, taking a minimum of just under five hours, while the majority of flight times would otherwise range between seven and eight hours.

If you are unsure about managing your diabetes while travelling, you should discuss this with your diabetes team.

Time difference

The time difference in Egypt is one hour ahead of British Summer Time and two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, which should not require much alteration of your medication.

Climate

The average climate in Egypt is considerably hotter than that of the UK, with the summer period of June-September seeing an average temperature of roughly 33°C in Egypt.

For this reason, travellers taking insulin should vigilantly monitor blood sugar levels as extreme heat can lead to enhanced insulin absorption.

Any planned periods of physical activity, such as walking, could be prepared for by reduced insulin dosages.

Currency

The currency used in Egypt is the Egyptian pound. It is advised to exchange money before you arrive at the airport to secure the best rates.

Otherwise, there are ATMs scattered across most major cities in Egypt, where the majority of credit and debit cards are accepted by hotels and restaurants.

Vaccinations

There are no mandatory vaccinations for UK travellers to undergo to enter Egypt, although the Egyptian government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. There is no risk of contacting yellow fever in Egypt.

It is recommended for most travellers to receive immunisation for hepatitis A and typhoid, as both diseases can be caught through contaminated food or water in Egypt, regardless of where you are eating or staying. 

It is essential to mention your diabetes and provide a thorough list of your medication to your doctor before receiving these treatments. You should allow eight weeks before your departure to arrange for these vaccinations to be scheduled with your doctor and subsequently received in time.

Other vaccines to consider before travelling to Egypt include those for hepatitis B, tetanus and rabies, which can be caught by bites from dogs or bats in Egypt. Children are especially recommended to receive the rabies vaccine, with risk higher for those going to remote areas or staying anywhere with a higher risk of contact with animals and bats.

Otherwise, the opportunity should be taken to ensure existing vaccinations such as your yearly flu jab and against polio are also up to date.

Insulin

You should note which syringes are available in Egypt, with U-40 and U-100 syringes the most commonly used.

The vast majority of insulin in the UK is U-100 insulin. If you need to take a different strength of insulin, say in an emergency, it’s important that you use the correct device and syringes for that insulin.

For example, you would use a U-40 syringe for U-40 insulin. You will need to work with a doctor getting the right dose if you’re using a different form of insulin.

Ensuring access to medication

UK citizens with diabetes will not be entitled to any free medication services while in Egypt. Securing comprehensive medical insurance will be essential in order to obtain even basic treatment.

Diabetic medication is available in Egypt, but payment will be required from all pharmacies. Blood and urine testing equipment is available from most pharmacies.

Emergency number

The emergency services telephone number to be called in Egypt is 123.

It is worth checking with the manufacturer of your meter in the UK if the particular equipment you require is available in Egypt beforehand and if it is sold under any different names.

Diabetes associations

It is important to note the diabetes associations in the country you are travelling to in case of an emergency.

There are three diabetic associations in Egypt. The addresses are:

  • Arabic Association for the Study of Diabetes and Metabolism (a member of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) since 2013),
    Hassanein Dosuky Street,
    Maadi,
    Cairo,
    Egypt
    Tel: +20-223584553
    Email: aasd.diabetes@gmail.com
  • Egyptian Diabetes Association (a member of the IDF since 1975),
    Ahmed Shawki Street, Madinat Tebeya Building,
    Mostafa Kamel, 21311 Alexandria,
    Egypt
    Tel +20.3.543 99 28
    Email: egyptiandiabetesassociation@hotmail.com
  • Upper Egypt Diabetes Association,
    El Bahr St, Salama Abdullah Bldg 1st Floor,
    01111 Sohag,
    Egypt,
    Tel: +20-93231212,
    Email: uedaegypt2000@gmail.com

Questions

  • How is blood glucose measured in Egypt? Unfortunately, we do not have the information of whether blood glucose is measured in mg/dl or mmol/l in Egypt.
  • What language is spoken in Egypt? Arabic. It is advised to learn enough basic phrases, as well as those relating to your diabetes, to engage in day-to-day conversation as not all locals will have a grasp of English.
  • Will I need an international driving license when driving in Egypt? Yes
  • If I want to hire a vehicle during my visit, will I face any form of discrimination? No, providing you have your driving license with you.
  • What sugar free drinks are available in Egypt? Mineral water and soft drinks such as Diet Coke
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