Health and Safety in Fiji
Crime is minimal, there are no crocodiles, no malaria and not much to be concerned about a trip to Fiji. However, mosquitos can be a pain and staying in remote areas can incur a few risks. In this guide on how to stay safe in Fiji, we outline the health and safety issues to be aware of in Fiji and how you can reduce the risks.
Health Tips for Fiji
- If you are feeling ill, be proactive and see a doctor in Fiji. They are more likely to know the local illnesses than your doctor back home
- Go heavy on the sun protection – see What are the Best Sunscreens for Fiji
- Make sure your travel vaccinations are up-to-date. See a doctor 4-6 weeks before travel at the latest – see Do You Need Vaccines to Travel to Fiji?
- Know what water is safe to drink – see Can You Drink the Water in Fiji?
- Be aware of food safety – see 10 Health Tips for Fiji
- Focus on hand hygiene when doing a village stay
- Some villages are very remote, so if you start feeling ill, act quickly as it might take a day or two to see a doctor
- Pack a first aid kit specifically for Fiji – see What to Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Fiji
- If you get cut, act quickly to clean the wound, disinfect and place an adequate band-aid
- If you have pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, see your doctor a few weeks before your trip and ask them to make a note of your medication and condition.
For more information on each tip, see 10 Health Tips for Fiji.
Crime and Personal Safety
As in any society, crime does exist in Fiji, but it’s not nearly as common or extreme as cities in say, North America or Europe. The key is to use common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Here are three main types of crime that can be experienced in Fiji:
Petty crime, such as bag-snatching, has been reported by tourists in Fiji, but most petty theft is more opportunistic, such as robbery. Be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to safeguard your personal belongings. Keep items like passports, money and electronic items out of sight, even in your hotel room and vehicle.
There have been reports of credit card fraud and credit card skimming in the past in Fiji. Use an RFID blocker credit card sleeve to protect your credit card from card skimming.
There have been reports of sexual harassment on female travellers occurring at night in urban areas, particularly in Suva. Take usual precautions like not walking alone in poorly lit areas at night.
Fiji Police Contact Details
Fiji Police (emergency): 917
Fiji Police: +679 311222
Tourist Police: +679 3302433
Fiji presents a few environmental hazards to be aware of, but very few diseases. Like travelling to anywhere in the world, it’s smart to have your travel vaccinations up-to-date and to prepare a first aid kit for injuries or minor health issues that might occur. See our What to Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Fiji for advice on what to pack.
Medical Issues That Can Occur in Fiji
The most common medical issues that can occur in Fiji are sunburn, heatstroke, mosquito bites and coral cuts. These are very easy to keep in check with simple precautions. Other medical issues may occur when staying in remote villages or concerning food, which you can get tips on in our 10 Health Tips for Fiji. Otherwise, here are some main factors to be aware of.
Overexposure to the sun and high humidity can lead to heatstroke. Symptoms include exhaustion, confusion, headache and vomiting. To avoid, wear high factor sunscreen reapplied every three hours and drink plenty of water. If symptoms occur, move out of the sun immediately and try to cool the victim down by wrapping a wet towel around them. See a doctor as soon as possible.
Mosquitos can leave a nasty itchy bite, which is enough to ruin an evening under the stars. While there are not many mosquito-transmitted diseases in Fiji, there have been cases of dengue fever in the past (see below). Check out 12 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Fiji for ways to avoid bites.
Ciguatera is fish poisoning caused by eating reef fish that have eaten particular types of toxic algae. Symptoms occur within 24 hours of eaten contaminated reef fish and include vomiting, diarrhoea and numbness in the fingers. Ways to prevent it include only eating the fish that the locals eat or avoid eating reef fish altogether.
Cuts from live coral can leave prolonged infections, so if you are injured by live coral, get out of the water immediately and cleanse the wound. Take out all of the bits of coral, apply antiseptic cream, and cover with a dressing.
Scuba diving is a popular activity in Fiji, but neglecting the strict depth and timing precautions of scuba diving can result in decompression illness, otherwise known as “the bends”. A decompression chamber is available in Suva.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-transmitted disease that has had a few outbreaks in Fiji in recent years. It is only the day-biting mosquitos (black and white striped) that cause the infection, so take a precaution by preventing mosquito bites. See 12 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Fiji for tips.
E-coli (Traveller’s Diarrhoea)
E-coli is a virus resulting from food and water that is contaminated with faecal matter, for instance. Precautions to take include boiling water for at least 10 minutes if the water is not from a safe source and washing hands regularly. See 6 Ways to Make Sure the Water is Safe to Drink in Fiji and Can You Drink the Water in Fiji? for more tips. Symptoms include fever, drowsiness and diarrhoea. If symptoms occur, hydrate by taking small sips of fluids continuously, alternating between electrolytes and water. If you don’t have electrolyte solution, drink Coca Cola or salty broth. In most cases, you will need to wait for the symptoms out, as antibiotics rarely treat them effectively.
Typhoid Fever and Meningitis
In very rare cases, typhoid fever and meningitis outbreaks have occurred during the wet season (November to April) and in small communities. Nevertheless, it is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be up-to-date with routine vaccinations and to get travel vaccinations, such as diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of where you are travelling to. Learn more about these vaccinations in Do You Need Vaccines to Travel to Fiji?
Medical and Travel Insurance for Fiji
If your health insurance does not cover you when abroad, then consider purchasing some travel insurance. Good travel insurance should include cover for theft, illness and injury. Add-ons that are more worth considering for Fiji include policies for “dangerous sports”. This usually includes snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing. It’s also a good idea to get an insurance policy that includes evacuation. While the health services in Fiji are good, the facilities are not at the same standards as well-developed countries, so really serious illness or injury could lead to evacuation to Auckland or Sydney.
Find out more about medical insurance for travelling in Fiji in our guide to Medical and Travel Insurance for Fiji TT051.