The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
Botswana is a developing nation classified as upper middle income. Located in southern Africa (north of South Africa and east of Namibia), the climate is classified as predominantly dry (semi arid).
See also: Library article for Yellow Fever
Although yellow fever does not occur in Botswana, an official yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required depending on your itinerary.
- Requirement: A vaccination certificate is required for travelers aged ≥ 1 year coming from countries with risk of YF transmission. This also applies to all airport transit stops in risk countries.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, or typhoid fever. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2018) Malaria risk due predominantly to P. falciparum exists from November through May/June in the northern parts of the country: Bobirwa, Boteti, Chobe, Ngamiland, Okavango and Tutume districts/subdistricts.
- Recommended prevention in risk areas: C – Risk of P. falciparum malaria, in combination with reported chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine resistance. Mosquito bite prevention plus atovaquone–proguanil or doxycycline or mefloquine chemoprophylaxis (select according to reported side effects and contraindications) a
aAlternatively, for travel to rural areas with low risk of malaria infection, mosquito bite prevention can be combined with stand–by emergency treatment (SBET).
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: Present in the following subdistricts: Botete, Chobe (including Chobe National Park), Ngami, Okavango, and Tuteme. Also present in the following districts: Bobirwa, Northeast (including Francistown), Ghanzi, Mahalapaye, and Serowe Palapye. Rare cases in the districts of Kgalagadi North, Keneng West, and Southern. None in the city of Gaborone (see Map 2-04).
- Drug resistance3 : Chloroquine.
- Malaria species: P. falciparum 90%, P. vivax 5%, P. ovale 5%.
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: Subdistricts of Botete, Chobe (including Chobe National Park), Ngami, Okavango, and Tuteme and districts or Bobirwa, Northeast (including Francistown), Ghanzi, Mahalapaye, and Serowe Palapye: Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or tafenoquine.4 Areas with rare cases: None (practice mosquito avoidance).
3 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
4 Primaquine and tafenoquine can cause hemolytic anemia in people with G6PD deficiency. Patients must be screened for G6PD deficiency before starting primaquine or tafenoquine. See Tafenoquine Approved for Malaria Prophylaxis and Treatment for more information.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
High risk exists throughout the country, with moderate risk in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Other Disease and Health Risks
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
No intrinsic risk of attack by terrorist groups exists, but unforeseen attacks are possible.
Moderate risk of violent crime (armed robbery, home invasion, home robbery, sexual assault, and carjacking) and moderate risk of petty crime exist throughout the country, especially in Gaborone (including Kgale Hill and areas surrounding Gaborone Dam) and other cities; in remote areas frequented by tourists; in hotels, lodges, game parks, and nature reserves.
Protests and demonstrations occur throughout the country and have the potential to turn violent without warning. Bystanders are at risk of harm from violence or from the response by authorities. Disruption to transportation may occur.
Desert excursions should only be undertaken with organized groups and experienced guides. Participants should inform someone not on the tour of their itinerary and anticipated return time. An adequate supply of food and water for extended unforeseen delays is essential.
Other Safety Threats
Risk exists for fatal wildlife attacks on safaris and in game parks and reserves, especially in the Okavango Delta. Travelers should closely follow park regulations, always maintain a safe distance from wildlife, and should not exit vehicles or protected enclosures.
High risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is 12 to 24 per 100,000 population. The rate is less than 10 in most high-income countries. Driving at night is not advised. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark.
Traffic flows on the left-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
The rainy season is from December through March. Floods, mudslides, and landslides may occur.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in Botswana
- United States: [+267] 395-3982; bw.usembassy.gov
- Canada: [+267] 390-4411; www.zimbabwe.gc.ca
- United Kingdom: [+267] 395-2841; www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-high-commission-gaborone
- Australia: [+267] 390-2996
Botswana's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: www.botswanaembassy.org
- In Canada: [+1] 613-596-0166
- In the U.K.: [+44] 020-7499-0031
- In Australia: [+61] 2-6234-7500
HIV and hepatitis testing may be required to obtain a work or residence visa.