Medical Q&As

Antimalarials - which one?

I will soon be backpacking to South America. I am aware of all the vaccinations that I will need, but malaria medication seems to vary from country to country. Which one should I ask for?

As an initial step in answering your question you might like to check out our recently launched travel vaccine calculator, which will give you guidelines on the vaccines that are recommended for various countries including a general statement on whether or not malaria prophylaxis is advised. That feature can be accessed through the following link: http://irishhealth.com/calc/travel01.html. You should check out the guidelines for each of the countries you intend to visit. Armed with that preliminary information you would need to discuss your itinerary with your GP or a doctor at one of the medical centres that specialise in travel medicine. The recommended prophylaxis can vary from country to country even within the same continent. The schedule may also change from time to time in a given country so it is important that you discuss the matter with your doctor in order to get the most up to date advice. There is a growing problem internationally with drug resistance within the species of malaria carrying mosquitoes and this is the reason for changing guidelines on prophylaxis. If you were to take antimalarial drugs other than those that were recommended for a particular country you would not be adequately protected. Taking the wrong drugs is almost as bad as not taking any at all.