Aviation Health Tips

With Dr. Eyul TK James, an Aviation and Public Health Specialist,


(MBChB, Msc CHHM-Heidelberg, AvMed-London)

Question: If I have my passport complete with a visa, why should you ask for medical documents at Entebbe Airport?

Answer: It’s always prudent to find out information about the destination you are heading to. Countries have different health requirements for people entering their territories and many countries require authentic proof of vaccination against yellow fever. This is a requirement by World Health Organization (WHO) under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) Annex 6 & 7.

Uganda is near the Equator and therefore it is in the yellow fever belt alongside a few other countries like Brazil. Some countries like South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, India, China and others wouldn’t permit someone originating from Uganda without the yellow fever vaccination card. World Health Organisation updates these countries every year and a traveller can check for the information from the WHO website. In the past, many people were also known to have forged yellow fever vaccination cards for purposes of travel and some of these cards have been detected in foreign countries, which has tainted the image of Uganda and its medical practices. This is one of the reasons checks at departure for the authenticity of the yellow fever cards were instituted to curb the vice. The Ministry of Health (MOH) vetted and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with 22 health facilities under its supervision to administer the yellow fever vaccine. This is in line with the Public Health Act.

Question: Are passengers arriving in Uganda also required to have yellow fever vaccination cards?
Question: Which passengers are exempted from travelling with yellow fever vaccination cards?
Question: For how long does the yellow fever vaccine provide protection?
What should I do if I am travelling to a country with a cholera outbreak?
Questions: Is it necessary for one on lifelong treatment to stock up medicine when travelling to Europe or America yet they can find the medicine there?
Question: Is it true that to travel to some countries like Germany one must have a health insurance cover?
Question: Is a medical test one of the requirements for one to get a visa?
Question: Are tuberculosis (TB) patients permitted to travel?
Pulmonary Tuberculosis (infecting the lungs) can easily be spread to other passengers in the aircraft. As the sick passenger with PTB coughs, neighbouring passengers can inhale the bacteria droplets and if their immune system is not strong enough, they may develop the disease later on. The jet engine air circulation system does not filter the bacteria and therefore re-injects it back into the cabin. Passengers at the active phase of PTB are not fit to travel for this reason. They are fit to travel after completing at least 4 weeks of an intensive phase of anti PTB treatment and the sputum test shows negative.
Question: Why would you stop pregnant women from travelling yet they are still strong and go about their work normally until the final week of pregnancy?
Question: My son is anaemic, is it ok to travel with him to London?
Question: I am usually tense when I go on business trips and sometimes even my blood pressure shoots up. Is it advisable to travel when my pressure is high?
Question: There are many cases of patients referred for treatment abroad, how do you expect them to get to hospitals abroad if you discourage ill people from travelling by air?
Question: Many live with chronic illnesses that they may not disclose. How do you handle such cases?
Question: Why do Ugandans travel to Europe and America with their malaria drugs yet that’s where, arguably, the best medicine is manufactured?
Question: Are people suffering from sickle cells allowed to travel?
Question: Which countries would you advise a person with albinism not to travel to?