Unfortunately, Mali is right in the middle of the "Malaria Zone" of Western Africa. Because of this, you should exercise extreme caution to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, which is the most common way of contracting the disease.
What this means is to wear adequate clothing (jeans instead of shorts, long sleeves instead of short sleeves, high calf socks instead of low ankle socks, etc.), sleep under mosquito nets, and bring/use bug spray.
Mosquitoes that carry the disease tend to fly low and go for your ankles/calfs (basically below your knee), so that is an especially important area of your body to keep protected.
A lot of people suggest taking malaria medication too, but I didn't use any, I just did all of the above and I was fine, I never contracted the disease.
However, some girl on our trip DID bring malaria medication but did not protect her lower legs very well - she wore skirts and often wore shoes without any socks. She was bitten several times and, despite the medicine, did get malaria. Although it was caught soon enough that it was treated and she is completely fine now, but I think this shows that it's more important to just not let mosquitoes bite you rather than taking medicine and thinking that will prevent it.
Security warning! Please read
The security situation in Bamako has changed drastically in the past few weeks. Violent crime has increased dramatically and 40 prisoners escaped from Kati prison on 23rd July and only 2 have been recaptured. These prisoners included murderers, robbers and rapists. The Police have cautioned that these individuals should be regarded as highly dangerous and capable of securing weapons. The crime rate has escalated even more since this mass escape. The main areas affected are around the hotels in central Bamako, particularly the Hippodrome area and outlying areas where foreigners tend to live such as Badalabougou. The majority of reports suggest most of these activities occur between the hours of 2300-0600, but evidence suggest random incidents occur outside of night-time hours. The Police have confirmed an increase in gun assaults in the vicinity of Hippodrome, and have voiced concerns of a rise in these activities in the RUE PRINCESSE section of Hippodrome (street where BLA BLA and LA TERASSE are located). Police have shared reports of tourists patronizing hotels in the area have been the victim of repeated muggings in the area.
Precautions: It is wise not to take a taxi late at night, travel across town or walk the streets. Take reasonable security precautions at all times - do not wear flashy jewellery, talk on a mobile phone in the street and make sure all doors are locked.
Owing to strained resources, coverage and response times of Police personnel are severely limited, or absent in many residential areas, essentially removing the deterrent for many of these criminal elements to operate. Please report incidents to Post One: +223 222 5470 x117
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NB: This section is for information only. If you worried you may have Malaria please see a doctor as soon as possible.
Mali is a developing country and care should be taken to guard your health. The biggest problems for travellers are Malaria and stomach bugs.
Malaria is caught from parasite infected mosquitoes who bite you and transfer the parasite to you. It can be caught any time, not just in the rainy season. It is unpleasant and can be life-threatening so reasonable precations are sensible. One of the best prophylaxis at the moment for Mali is Doxycycline which can be bought locally very cheaply. But take advice from a Tropical Medicine specialist. Whatever you do, avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, which is easier said than done! There is a good mosquito repellent cream by Vaseline which everyone uses and which seems to work for most people. You can buy it in the supermarkets in town. Use a mosquito net at night and use cream every time you go out in the evening. If possible wear long sleeves and socks and shoes in the evenings.
The symtoms of Malaria can include:
Jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and eyes)
It is important to treat it quickly. In Mali the most common medication for treatment by expatriates is Arsumax. But if you suspect Malaria go and see a doctor. The Clinic Pasteur is reckoned to be the best in Bamako.
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Food in the streets
Be carefull with food you buy in the streets. Mali is not a place where you can find healthy food.
This is a vector of Typhoid fever.
Mali is dirty, never trust food if it is not in a recognised restaurant.
Parcels are stolen by custom officers.
Be careful when you ask someone to send you something else than a common letter to Mali.
Mail is coming by air and arrives at the main post office in Bamako.
Custom officers steal your parcel if it is something interesting.
So, always send parcels with DHL, Fedex or a similar services company, they will still open the parcel but in presence of DHL officers and then cannot steal your goods.
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