Vanuatu Malaria Prophylaxis Experience

When Zyra and I were heading to Vanuatu, we had to take prophylaxis for malaria. I am not a big fan of medicines. I do not even take vitamins but malaria is a serious threat so I had to do this.

  • primaquine
  • mefloquine
  • doxycycline
  • chloroquine
  • atovaquone/proguanil (malarone)
The only drugs available in our Philippine office was doxycycline. This should be taken 1-2 days before traveling to an area with malaria. So while Zyra and I were in Sydney, we downed one tablet each with no side effects.

When we arrived in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu the next day we took another tablet of doxycyline. I thought that the problems I'd have with doxy is the sunburn which I was not worried about because I have dark skin plus regularly use sun blocks. I was wrong. The drug gave us the worst gastrointestinal reaction ever. We both experienced gastroesophageal acid reflux. So both of us were down on our knees nauseated and vomiting. 

I was there to help people but if I continue to take doxycline I will eventually be useless and helpless. Right there and then, I stopped taking it and decided to just slather mosquito repellant to keep the mosquitoes away.

It was a blessing that when we arrived in Tanna Island the next day there are only a few mosquitoes and Brianna, the Canadian doctor has malarone with her. Malarone is really expensive but you get no side effects. Totally worth it!

We had to fly from one island to another for mobile clinics so I was regularly taking it for a week. Later on when we were just based in Tanna, we found out that the island was declared malaria free so I stopped taking malarone and gave my liver a well-deserved rest.


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