Healthcare in Tanzania

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Allianz Partners - Tanzania

Introduction

Tanzania offers breath-taking landscapes, fascinating wildlife and tranquil lakes. Though local culture can be quite different from Western norms, the adjustment is often significantly eased by the typically friendly and welcoming attitude of Tanzanians.

Most expats moving to Tanzania do so to work in industries such as construction, tourism and agriculture, or as part of a corporate move within their existing company. There are a number of humanitarian projects based within the country and this also draws expats from around the world.

Unfortunately, the quality of medical care in the country is low, and expats will need to make arrangements for a robust private health insurance.

The healthcare system

Medical assistance can be hard to find in Tanzania, particularly outside of major cities. Inadequate funding plagues the country’s public health system with the result that the available facilities, staff and resources aren’t adequate to accommodate Tanzania’s growing population.

Most expats don’t make use of the public healthcare system in Tanzania, opting instead to use private doctors and hospitals. However, even options for private healthcare are mostly limited to facilities in Dar es Salaam.

For emergency or specialised treatment, medical evacuation to Kenya or South Africa is recommended.

Health insurance

Medical treatment is expensive in Tanzania, particularly in the private sector. It’s imperative that expats ensure they have a comprehensive healthcare plan that covers both day-to-day medical expenses as well as transportation and treatment costs in case of medical evacuation.

Expats working in the public sector are automatically signed up for the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), which allows access to public healthcare. Because of the low quality of care at public hospitals and clinics, most expats avoid using them even if they have access via the NHIF. It’s common practice for expats to purchase private insurance in addition to making mandatory NHIF contributions, so that they can use private healthcare providers instead. Those who work in the private sector can sign up for the NHIF voluntarily, but it’s not recommended as they’re unlikely to make use of it.

Pharmacies and medicines

Pharmacies in Tanzania can be found attached to hospitals in large cities, but are harder to find in more rural areas. Across the country, pharmacies are prone to running out of stock, so expats taking chronic medication should bring a supply with them from home. They may need to present proof at the border that the medication is for personal use and was obtained legally. This can take the form of a prescription or doctor’s note.

Health hazards

Tanzania has one of the highest incidences of HIV/AIDS in the world, so appropriate precautions should be taken against contracting the virus while in the country, such as practising safe sex and not sharing needles.

 Mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue fever are also prevalent, especially in rural areas. It’s recommended that expats in at-risk regions take prophylaxis, sleep under a mosquito net, and make use of insect repellents.

Emergency services

In the event of a medical emergency, local care isn’t recommended, though expats can call 112 in an emergency if they wish. However, the best course of action is to receive treatment in a nearby country with higher standards of medical care. Transport is usually by air ambulance, which is arranged by one’s insurance provider.

Moving or living abroad?

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