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Water and food Tap water is OK for cooking and bathing (Brazilians, and particularly those ones from the NorthEasth, are very fond of baths and showers; three or four a day). Mineral water is so cheap in Brazil, there's no need to drink tap water. Restaurants in the tourist areas are clean, the Sanitary Agency is very active. The law obliges all restaurants to allow customers to visit their instalations to check out the higiene.
Vaccination Natal is an urban city. There's no need for vaccinations, unless you plan to go to wilder regions (Amazon or Pantanal).
Pharmacies and drugstores Most of the biggest world laboratories produce and sell in Brazil (Pfizer, Merck, Bayer, etc). Very few medicines are freely sold (for example, Aspirina, Tylenol, Cebion). Most medicines require a prescription (these are marked with a red label), but even if you don't have one you shouldn't have a problem to buy it over the counter in drugstores (for example, antibiotics, Cataflan, Viagra, Cialis, are sold without prescriptions). Very rarely are specific medicines produced for a person (e.g., 100 mg of a certain principle), and in these cases you will need a prescription. Some medicines are closely controlled (these are marked with a black label), and you will have trouble buying them without a prescription (for example, Prozac and other ansiolitics).
If you have specific needs, bring your own medicines with you.
Hospitals and clinics
Whichever place you choose to travel, there's always a chance you will have to go to a hospital or doctor; common reasons for that are the changes in food, climates, etc.
Natal has public and private hospitals. Don't count on public hospitals (stories of people arriving at 3 a.m. to try to see a doctor, or waiting months for an urgent surgery are not uncommon). Note, however, that in case of very serious injuries (a car accident, for example), you will be probably taken to a public hospital, and that's the best place you could be, because these hospitals are the only ones which can afford to have any specialist at any time of day or night. In such cases, however ugly the hospital could be, if you or yours are being assisted, don't try to find a better looking place.
Private hospitals are better, but expect a service much worse than the one you are used to; even for emergencies, a few hours waiting is not uncommon.
Doctors and dentists
Of course, you should see your doctor before travelling. To see a doctor in Natal, appointments usually are set a few days in advance, whatever your Health Plan is; some more respected doctors (the ones more likely to speak English) can have a few weeks already taken. If you don't have a Health Insurance, expect to pay something between R$50 and R$100; in Brazil, the consultation fee includes the first and a return visit, if needed (for example, the doctor may request some exams, which would be require a return visit to be analyzed).
Dental urgencies are more common than medical. It's easier to have an immediate appointment with a dentist. There are a few 24h dental clinics. Prices can vary very much. A particular good clinic is OdontoFace.
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