The Gambia

The Gambia has plenty of rivers
The Gambia has plenty of rivers

Some breathtaking sights are on display in The Gambia, including the Gambia River and Arch 22, while the Crocodile Pool at Kachikally Museum and Abuko Nature Reserve provide tourists with up close views of beautiful, rare animal species.

It is essential to study the laws upheld in The Gambia before arriving, which differ severely to those in the UK.

Gambia customs

Reading up customs of The Gambia, an Islamic country, will be required to ensure your actions do not offend their cultures or religious beliefs.

Getting to Gambia

The only way to access The Gambia from the United Kingdom is by airplane. Travelling to The Gambia’s capital city, Banjul, from London can result in vastly difference travel times, however.

Depending on your airline, you may be able to reach Banjul between eight and 11 hours, although an average time is more likely to extend to around 16 hours.

However, certain flights can take anywhere between 58 and 65 hours.

If you are uncertain as how to manage your diabetes while flying, you should consult a member of your diabetes team.

Time difference

The time difference in The Gambia is one hour ahead of British Summer Time and the same as Greenwich Mean Time, which should not neccessitate major changes in your diabetes management.

Climate

The climate of The Gambia remains at an average of 25°C all year round, and insulin takers should be wary that this heat could result in enhanced insulin absorption.

It is therefore critical to regulalry check your blood sugar levels, especially if you planning any physical activity. If you are concerned about the prospect of a hypo you could consider reducing your dosages.

Currency

The currency used in The Gambia is the Gambian Dalasi. ATMs are infrequent, so currency should be collected before arriving, although the British pound is also wide accepted in many establishments.

Vaccinations

There are no mandatory vaccinations to enter The Gambia, however several are highly recommended. You should consult your doctor eight weeks prior to your departure in order to receive the vaccinations in time.

All travellers are recommended to get vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid, which can be contracted through contaminated food or water.

You should also talk to your doctor about how to prevent the contraction of malaria while travelling. Your doctor may prescribe you medication before, during and after your stay and will advise you on what to do to avoid getting malaria.

Yellow fever is a risk in The Gambia, so it is recommended that travellers under the age of nine months should receive immunisation.

The government of The Gambia also require proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled from a country with a risk of yellow fever.

Some travellers are also recommended to receive vaccinations for other diseases, including hepatitis B and rabies, which can be carried by dogs, bats and other mammals in The Gambia.

Vaccination against meningitis is recommended for travellers planning to visit The Gambia during its dry season of December-June, in which the disease is most common.

Ensuring access to medication

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

Diabetic medication is available in The Gambia, but payment will be required for all medicine and health care facilities are relatively sparse anyway.

In case of an emergency, the number to call for an ambulance is 116.

Insulin

You should note which syringes are available in The Gambia, with U-100, U-80 and U-40 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.

Diabetes associations

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

The diabetic association of The Gambia is the Gambian Diabetes Association, which has been a member of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) since 1994. The address is:

  • Gambian Diabetes Association,
    PO Box 1853,
    34 Hagan Street,
    Banjul,
    Gambia
    Email: balamere@qanet.gm 

Questions

  • How is blood glucose measured in The Gambia? Healthcare is not standardised, so it is not possible to say it is measured in any particularly clinic or health care facility. The general consensus, however, is that most places measure in mmol/l.
  • What language is spoken in The Gambia? Wollof and Mandinka. It is imperative to learn basic phrases as a minimum requirement before entering The Gambia.
  • Will I need an international driving license when driving in The Gambia? Yes
  • If I want to hire a vehicle during my visit, will I face any form of discrimination? No
  • What sugar free drinks are available in The Gambia? Mineral water, soda water and various diet drinks
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