São Tomé is one of the most secure country in Africa. Some people say São Tomé is as peaceful as Europe in the 80’s. There is no attack in the streets, and no violent robbery (neither targeting locals nor foreigners). Basically you can walk downtown at night with an expensive wristwatch, nobody will pay attention. And if it happens that some money is about to fall off your pocket, local people will gently inform you about it...
Nota : only one place requires attention : the Blue Lagoon.
It has been reported that some thieves would break your car’s window to rob what is inside while the travelers are busy swimming or snorkeling. This problem has been solved and the local authorities have now appointed security guards. Make sure they are near your parking spot and make salutations to confirm they are aware of you being there.
As a general consideration, do not let anything at sight in your car. If unsure, better to park near a shop, buy something and politely ask the shop owner to keep an eye on your car.
Where to go ?
Pharmacies : there are many pharmacies in the center of São Tomé city. Their supplies and capacity of advice may differ from one to another. The most renown pharmacy is located in Pantufo, in the very near suburbs of São Tomé city.
Health Consultation : you can consult a doctor in the Health Center downtown (Posto de Saude) during office hours. You can consult at any time of the day (and night) at the national Hospital in the Hospital district (Bairro de Hospital).
Consultations are cheap and affordable for local people, so even if you are not covered by your insurance, you should not hesitate to consult a doctor. Service quality is good, but it is recommended that heavy surgery shall be performed outside São Tomé.
French speaking doctors :
-Dr Maurice Ganev : +239 991 39 64
-Dr Jorge Vilez : +239 984 57 47
Yellow fever :
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever
transmission and for travelers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. You will be required to show the yellow vaccination booklet upon arrival.
Due to international cooperation within the last past twenty years, Malaria has almost been eradicated from São Tomé. It is still lightly active in the poorest areas, where people live in wooden houses near rivers. Therefore there is very little chance that you be infected. Nevertheless, you should bring with you the Malaria medicine (Quartem or any other relevant medicine).
Malaria symptoms may vary upon people : headache, neck ache, toothache, dizziness, stomachache, sore back muscles, feeling of vomiting. There are Health Centers in all cities, in case of suspicion, you should not wait to see a doctor.
Nota : malaria is transported by mosquitoes. Whenever possible, wear pants and long sleeves shirts, sleep with a mosquito net, and use repellent.
Like everywhere in the world, there are sexual transmissible diseases including AIDS. Therefore, you should be aware of it and take preventive measures when engaging with a local partner. Condoms can be bought in Supermarkets and local pharmacies.
If you walk bare feet, or with sandal in an area with pigs, it may happen that you get a little harmless worm in your foot. Local health center will remove it in a few minutes. In order to avoid any risk, local people rinse their feet with gasoline...
Since you are very likely to enjoy a bath in the ocean, we shall warn you about the presence of urchins at the entrance of quite a few beaches (Tamarindos, Cafe, Blue Lagoon etc..) Therefore you should be careful where you step, and avoid unidentified black spot and rocks when enter in the water.
- First, you should ask local people or tourist whenever possible.
- Second, you can observe where local people enter and exit the waters.
- Third, you can use snorkeling mask to identify yourself potential threats.
If you step on an urchin : go back to the beach avoiding other potential encounters. You may feel a pain in the foot . there is no solution to prevent it. The pain shall last for about twenty minutes and reduce then disappear.
How to remove the urchins' needles:
- Local method : use Aloé Vera, and wrap you foot for about one hour. Then, splatter palm oil on your foot, and bring the flame of a candle near the place where the needles are located. Use a iron needle to remove them, by pushing them from underneath.
- My doctor’s method : put vinegar in a basin and soak your foot in it. After some time, the skin will wrinkle and help remove the needles.
In any case, try to remove the needles gently and avoid breaking them. The risk of infection is little but does exist.