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Preparing for Nigeria
When preparing to go to Nigeria, you are preparing for a life-changing and excitinge your efforts. The information here is intended to make it easier for you to prepare.
Through the office of International Health Care Foundation you can receive answers tomost of your questions as well as suggestions for each step along the way. Please feelfree to call or e-mail [email protected].
Groups or Individuals
It is best to travel with a group of two or more. If you want to go, we will try to place you
with a group going at the time you desire to go. Occasionally one will travel alone, but
we discourage this for a first-time visitor. It is generally less expensive per person when
groups stay at the El Monte guesthouse, since the expense of paying a cook and
purchasing food can be shared by a group rather than being paid for solely by one
Medical Education
We want to encourage medical, nursing and other health care students to go to our
Nigerian hospitals. Academic credit can often be obtained for service there, depending on
the length of your stay and the extent of your medical involvement. We also have clinics
in Ghana where you could serve.
Passport and Visa
You must have a passport and a visa in order to enter either Nigeria or Ghana. Passport
Visa applications can be obtained at our office. When you have your passport picturesmade, have a few extras made for your visa and to carry with you in case needed.
Travel arrangements must be made two or three months in advance (or even earlier) toassure getting seats on your desired flights. You must have travel arrangements madebefore applying for a visa. You can obtain the missionary discount through one of theagents we use regularly.
A letter of invitation is also required and must be sent with your visa application. Wearrange for this letter of invitation.
PRINT in upper case the requested information on your visa application. Un embassy. The address in Nigeria is: Nigerian Christian Hospital, Mile 11, Ikot EkpeneRoad, Aba, Abia State, Nigeria What to include in your Fed Ex package:
completed visa application with picture attachedyour passport (It must be valid for at least 6 months) your letter of invitationcopy of your round-trip flight itinerary or photocopy of your entire ticketa Send by Federal Express to Tonya Ortiz. The Fed Ex address is: 1019 First St. N.W.,Wa 3982) to inform her that the package is being sent.
Obtain a shot record booklet where you receive your immunizations. Have all of your
current immunizations recorded in this booklet, which may be asked for when you enter
Nigeria. This booklet will also help you to keep your immunizations updated.
Keep your tetanus and polio updated
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Typhoid (injection or possibly oral form available)
Meningococcal vaccine
Yellow Fever immunization (good for 10 years)
Malaria is to be taken seriously. Take prophylactic medication and use mosquito nets.
(Nets are provided at our NCH guesthouse.)
Recommended prophylactic:
Mefloquine (trade name is Lariam)
This is currently the drug of choice, according to the Center for Disease Control in
Atlanta. The adult dose is one 250mg tablet per week. Start by taking one tablet one week
before your departure date, and take one tablet on the same day each week while in
Nigeria. Continue to take a tablet each week for four weeks after returning to the States.
Mefloquine is safe for children, also, but the dosage is adjusted for weight. Currently the
tablets cost us $3.00 each.
Doxycycline (Vibramycin)The dose is 100mg daily for adults. It is not recommended for children under age 8. Onemust also be aware of photosensitivity when taking Doxycycline. (When in doubt,consult a physician.) Malarone (Atovaquone/proquanil)This is a relatively new combination from Glaxo Wellcome. Initially it seems to be doingwell. The dose for adults is one tablet per day. Children can take it adjusted for weight.
ChloroquineThere is so much chloroquine resistance in Africa that as a single medicine it has almostno place now. Some take it once weekly (300mg base) combined with another medicine –Paludrine (proquanil) at 200mg per day. Paludrine cannot be obtained in the U.S.A.
This can be taken as a treatment for malaria. The treatment is easy –three tablets taken atone time. Do not take if you are allergic to sulfa drugs.
Health Insurance:
You should check with your insurance company regarding coverage outside of the U.S.A.
Most policies do not include international coverage. Short-term travel insurance policies
can be obtained on a per day or per week basis for about $3.00 per day. The policy
includes foreign medical care and evacuation to a hospital in emergency cases; it also
offers a death benefit. We require all of our short-term missionaries to take out such a
policy. Please check with our office for specifics.
Copies of your documentsWe recommend that you make photocopies of the following and keep them in a separateplace where you can find them if needed:your passportthe visa page of your passportyour letter of invitationyour your diplomas, professional licenses and board certificates, if medical list of contents offootlockers containing medicines or supplies which you are taking to Nigeria Airlines
Air France, Lufthansa and Virgin Air are currently the only airlines flying directly from
Europe into Port Harcourt (avoiding Lagos). Port Harcourt is about a two-hour drive from
the Nigerian Christian Hospital. A hospital driver will pick you up in the hospital vehicle.
A number of other European airlines fly into Lagos, but we do not recommend those
airlines because the trip often takes a day longer and is more of a hassle, since one has to
transfer to the domestic airport to get a domestic flight to Port Harcourt. If the flight
arrives in the late afternoon or evening, you will have to spend the night in Lagos, which
can be expensive and frightening to the inexperienced traveler. We can help you with
your travel arrangements. Remember to check all information on your tickets. Serious
mistakes are sometimes made, and the sooner you discover them, the easier it will be to
correct them. Several travel agents offer the missionary discount on tickets (RAPTIM),
which usually saves at least $300.
Have your travel agent check on the size and weight allowance of your carry-on and of
your luggage. Find out how many bags you can check and how much they can weigh.
Overweight bags can be very expensive. Some airlines are very strict about carry-onluggage and will make you repack to decrease weight. You may carry your camera andpurse separately. Be sure to label properly all check-in baggage (bags, trunks,footlockers, etc.). Weigh them before going to the airport and check the dimensionsallowed. (length + height + width). The weight limit for checked bags is usually 70 lbs.
An extra bag or an overweight bag may cost from $75 to $150.
Re and you would have to pay overweight for the 70 lb bags. When you check in at youroriginal airport, be certain that your luggage is checked all the way to Port Harcourt,Nigeria. Double-check your stubs!!! Nigerian Airport Customs Agents
You may have heard some negative stories about these agents, but they are generally very
bags properly labeled, and have your list of contents at hand. You should also have aletter from IHCF, telling of your mission. We usually do not show this unless the customsagents start asking questions. Do not volunteer information; simply answer theirquestions or show them your list or your letter. Tell them that you are bringing thesethings for the Nigerian Christian Hospital, and that nothing is for resale. You are goingthere to visit and donate your services. Do not say that you are going there to work, asthis may cause them to ask for your work permit. You are going to visit. All of the thingsyou are taking have been donated for this mission hospital. You may want to repeat this afew times. We have had no problems in the past and have found the officials to be quitecongenial.
If you are frugal, you will need perhaps only $3,000 for a one-month trip to Nigeria. The
major expenses are 1) preparations: pictures, passport, visa, vaccinations, personal
medicines, supplies, clothes and incidentals 2) airfare 3) living expenses (currently the
cost of staying at El Monte guesthouse is about $8.00 per day, which covers food,
utilities, salaries for the workers, etc.) 4) some miscellaneous expenses.
Carrying money
We recommend that you carry about $500 in cash for expenses in Nigeria (4 one-hundred
dollar bills and 5 twenties). You will receive a better exchange rate for larger bills, and
they are easier to carry. A money belt or a pouch hidden under your shirt or blouse is
recommended. Thieves are tricky. Do not display valuables openly. Do not reveal where
you are carrying your cash. Men, do not carry your wallet in your back pocket. Purse-
snatchers and briefcase thieves are common in public places, in airports, restrooms, on
trains and busses. Be alert but not paranoid. It is easy to be distracted by someone
bumping you while someone else picks your pocket.
Credit Cards
Credit cards can be used in some places but are not commonly used for everyday
shopping in Nigeria. If you take one, do not use it unless necessary. A personal check can
cash in Africa, and the exchange rate is much lower.
Tax Deductions
There are ways to receive a tax deduction for your mission trip. You, or those helping
you, can make a contribution to IHCF, and we can purchase your ticket and pay for your
shots with these funds; or you can have your church do the same. (We cannot issue tax
receipts unless the contributions are made to IHCF.)
Contact Information
There are guidelines for using the phone or sending e-mail messages from Nigeria. Please
adhere to them.
You will be asked to pay extra for your usage. Keep your messages short and do not send
or receive
private phone.
The number from the U.S. is 011-234-803706-3672. Their private e-mail [email protected].
Miscellaneous Important Information
Driving Vehicles
You, as a visitor, should not drive. Do not ask to drive. The hospital will provide drivers
for you when needed. The main reason for your not driving is the potential trouble that
could result if you had an accident that caused damage or injury. You could be delayed in
the country indefinitel
Leaving the hospital
Do not leave the hospital compound to go into town without properly notifying the
person or persons in charge of your group. Please do not ask for transportation to go
shopping. A time will probably be arranged for a group to go shopping; or, if Mrs.
Whittaker is going to Aba for any reason, you may be permitted to go along. The hospital
vehicles are primarily used for the business of the hospital and are not available to
It will generally be hot and humid. There are two seasons: the rainy season (about July
until December) and the dry season (about January until June). It is hot and humid during
the rainy season, and it is hot during the dry season. Take your favorite sunscreen.
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing is recommended. Cotton and cotton blends are best.
Medical workers find their scrubs to be comfortable. Scrub dresses are also appropriate.
Shorts are not in order. Ladies should not wear slacks except at the guesthouse. Dresses
of quite modest length are in order. Church wear is dressier. Nigerian men often wear a
suit. Visiting men usually at least wear a tie with a short-sleeved dress shirt. Alightweight jacket is always appropriate. Clothes are washed (by hand) at the guesthousetwice weekly. It is best to take clothes to last a week. Footwear should be comfortable.
Some take sandals, especially for relaxing.
You will be fed quite well at the guesthouse. It is mostly familiar food and well prepared.
You will be served an occasional Nigerian meal, which is very tasty. Water is boiled and
filtered, then cooled. Cold sodas are usually available as well.
Coffee drinkers, take your favorite instant coffee! Nescafe can be purchased there.
Be culturally sensitive! You are a guest and are to be an ambassador for Christ. See our
Contact: Dr. H. Glenn Boyd(501) [email protected]



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