The last thing
anyone wants to do is get sick on vacation. Travelers to Costa Rica are at
extremely low risk of catching tropical maladies. The country's excellent
medical system keeps diseases in check, through public education programs
and preventive medicine. Free, universal health care means that people do
not hesitate to visit the doctor when needed. The system covers everything
from dentistry, to maternity care, to open-head surgery. As a result,
Costa Rica's population is very healthy and enjoys a life expectancy
comparable to that of North Americans.
Such health consciousness
is one of the many reasons that visitors feel so comfortable in Costa
Rica. Yet, wherever you go in the world, common sense about what you eat
is the best companion. Costa Rica is no different. Just as you would at
home, feel free to enjoy the wonderful salads, tropical fruits and
"refrescos naturales". Avoid the adventure of street vendor foods and, in
rural or remote as inquire about the water and ice source before quenching
your thirst. But do quench it, because you should always drink plenty of
fluids in the tropics to avoid dehydration.
If you do happen to
need medical attention, first rate care is available at any one of Costa
Rica's public hospitals or private clinics, throughout the country. In San
JosÚ you can even pay with your credit card at the private hospitals.
Except in the case of remote lodges, you are never far from medical care.
Visitors should inform their tour guide if they have specific
medical conditions, such as allergies or diabetes, and what to do in case
of an incident.
Costa Rica's doctors receive excellent training,
either at the University of Costa Rica medical school or one of the
private universities. These schools also attract students from throughout
A large percentage of the doctors have taken
additional training at major schools in North America and Europe and many
of them speak English.
There are many pharmacies carrying a full
range of modern medicines and all but narcotic and addictive drugs are
available over the counter. Costa Rica is, in fact, the headquarters for
more than one international pharmaceutical company.
advantage of Costa Rica's health care system is its relatively low cost.
The combination of excellent attention and price has spurred a minor but
rapidly growing trend of medical tourism_ to Costa Rica. People combine
their vacation with inexpensive, high quality dental work, operations to
correct vision problems or cosmetic surgery. There are tour packages
available that include a retreat at a fancy hotel and private nursing care
while you recuperate from your treatment. Sometimes it's not just the
rejuvenating force of Costa Rica's nature that sends people back from
their vacation looking relaxed and ten years younger!