It's time for me to schedule a visit to the travel clinic, one of the most important steps when planning a trip to Africa. When I lived in Africa, I got a little lazy about malaria pills and keeping up to date with vaccines. But I lost any immunity I may have built up a long time ago, and as a mother of two, I can't afford to come home sick.
The tricky thing is to try and balance what is necessary and what is not, as far as vaccinations go, because a visit to the travel clinic does not come cheap. Many of Africa's scariest sounding diseases are spread by people, and when you're on safari for example, there are not a lot of people around. If you're volunteering and spending a few months in a rural area, you'll want to get any vaccine that's available to you. You can't put a price on health, but you do have to budget for it. A round of shots can easily set you back $400 or more.
Taking the right malaria prophylactic is essential for anyone going on safari, unless you're headed to some of South Africa's malaria-free wildlife parks. My preference is for Malarone, but you need to take advice from your travel clinic as malaria strains differ per country/region you travel to. Being up to date on Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid and Meningitis is highly recommended if you are traveling in sub-Saharan Africa.
If you get sick while on vacation in Africa, chances are your diagnoses will be faster and more accurate locally, than if your doctor at home was checking you out (unless you caught something before you traveled). Make sure you get travel insurance so you can get to the best hospital as quickly as possible in the event of an accident. While the statistics for deaths caused by malaria, dengue and other common diseases are terrible, as a relatively wealthy person with access to healthcare, your chances of recovery are very good. Trying to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in the first place, is your best line of defense. I've had malaria multiple times and fully grown maggots have been wrestled out of my back. I survived just fine because I had access to a doctor, just like you will.