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What to do if you fall ill in Freetown

Fever, headache, chills and sweats; the tropics come with beautiful beaches and equally impressive diseases. Whether it is the “runbele” (travelers diarrhea) you get after drinking contaminated water, or plain old malaria from infected mosquitoes, it is always good to know what to do when you or your travel companions fall ill.

Get the diagnosis

Fever is always a sign of something more serious happening in the body, so make sure that the moment temperatures rise you seek medical help. You can either go straight to the hospital (recommended) or go to a pharmacy that can run the Rapid Malaria Test for you to tell whether the fever is caused by Malaria or not. It is cheap (2$) and gives you result in less than five minutes, but should only be used if you do not have instant access to a hospital or happen to be near the pharmacy (see addresses at bottom of article).

There are a few hospitals in Freetown but a few recommended include Connaught, Aspen Medical and Choithram.

Whichever of the three you choose you must always bring cash along. Choithram does not provide you with test results if you do not pay a 30$ fee and admission requires a deposit of about 100$.

Aspen Medical is perhaps the most internationally oriented. When dealing with more serious illnesses the staff feel they cannot treat locally they evacuate you to one of the nearest hospitals abroad. Aspen will prepare the patients for travel and for admission in foreign hospitals. You need a membership plan or private medical insurance from approved suppliers in order to benefit from their facilities. Among a variety of plan options, there is a 30-day membership plan for which could be ideal for short term visitors to Sierra Leone. However, they do treat tourists if they can pay cash.

Connaught Hospital is the Sierra Leone’s main hospital. The doctors are excellent, but the waiting list long and there are too many patients per doctor.

Travel Advice

Please make sure you talk to your doctor about preventative medication and vaccines before traveling to Sierra Leone. Yellow fever vaccine is mandatory. A travel insurance with medical evacuation option is strongly advised.

Contact details of hospitals

Choithram Hospital- Hill Station, opposite of Old School junction), Freetown
Aspen Medical- George Brook Rd. Freetown and Bass Street (off King Harman Road)
Connaught Hospital, Lightfoot Boston street/ Percival street, Freetown

You can do a malaria rapid test at the ‘Lumley Pharmacy’ opposite of Lumley market.

Esther Kamara
About the author

Esther Kamara is a Dutch-Sierra Leonean that was born and raised in Amsterdam. After finishing her bachelor Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam she moved to Freetown, where she now works as a freelance writer and artist manager. Her brainchildren are otherworldly short stories and peculiar drawings of non-existing characters. Her contributions to the blog do not necessarily reflect the views of Visit Sierra Leone. Although she tried to be as accurate as possible, these observations are always momentarily and therefore subject to change.