Standards of public health in both Santiago and Chile are high. Some point to air pollution posing a risk to the long-term health of the capital’s population, but even this shouldn’t really be overstressed (See Pollution).
Public hospitals in Santiago offer reasonable standards, but as with most state-subsidised health systems worldwide, they are likely to cause frustration. Private clinics and health centres are abundant and provide excellent treatments, but at an astronomical cost. They are, however, your best bet at dealing with accidents and emergencies, therefore comprehensive travel insurance is an absolute necessity if you don’t want to end up taking up a mortgage to cover the expense.
Most pharmacies in Chile are excellently stocked and are open 24 hours, seven days a week, but you should obviously bring any specific medication that you are likely to require during the length of your trip, unless you want to pay a doctor’s appointment just to get a prescription issued.
Tap water is safe to drink in Santiago.
You should be conscious of high levels of sun index in the Spring and Summer months. Long exposures to the Sun can lead to severe sunburn. Protective sun creams are widely available at pharmacies.
Chilean food hygiene regulations are rigorous. Food establishments are routinely monitored and food hygiene practices are consistently enforced by the Servicio de Salud Metropolitano del Ambiente. Food poisoning incidents and complaints should be reported to:
Avenida Bulnes 194, Santiago
Phone: + 56 (2) 399 2435
Chile recently passed a law that prohibits smoking in most public spaces, with the exception of bars and restaurants. This is strictly controlled and smoking in prohibited place could lead to a fine and/or prosecution.