Healthcare in Angola

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Allianz Care - Angola

Introduction

Angola unfortunately bears the reputation of having some of the worst healthcare services on the planet, with only a small fraction of government expenditure spent on health. Its healthcare system comprises two sectors; public and private. While treatment at state hospitals and clinics comes at no cost, the majority of the population still has extremely limited access to medicine.

Better hospitals are found in the capital city of Luanda. However, even these are not up to the standards that most expats would be accustomed to. Most medical staff in Angola speak Portuguese but not English. Because of the high amount of Cuban doctors in Angola, expats may find Spanish-speaking doctors.

Public healthcare

While it is free, public healthcare in Angola is severely underfunded and understaffed. It’s also extremely difficult to access, with both locals and expats opting for private healthcare instead.

Regardless of affordability, treatment for expats at state institutions is highly discouraged. The doctors, nurses and caregivers may be insufficiently trained and have to make do with the outdated medical technology and infrastructure available in Angola.

Private healthcare

Expats, as well as middle and upper middle class citizens, invest in private healthcare which often has cover for emergency evacuation to better healthcare facilities in nearby South Africa. Those who can afford to, also travel to destinations such as Namibia, Cuba, Spain and Portugal for more complicated procedures and treatments.

Employers will normally provide expats with private health insurance. There are four major clinics in Luanda, namely Girassol, Sagrada Esperança, Multiperfil and the Luanda Medical Center. Luanda Medical Center specialises in orthopaedics, general surgery, paediatrics and cardiology.

While these are better than state facilities, they’re still considered inadequate and most expats choose to travel abroad for treatment, especially for issues requiring specialist expertise. Some companies may even have basic facilities on site, allowing people to be stabilised or treated before potentially being evacuated to better equipped institutions.

Pharmacies and medication

Pharmacies, called farmácias, are mostly found in Luanda and are extremely understocked. Those in hospitals and clinics are normally open 24 hours a day.

Health hazards in Angola

There are many health hazards in Angola, especially the threat of HIV/AIDS, malaria and neonatal disorders. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, expats also run the risk of contracting typhoid, tuberculosis, cholera, sickle cell anemia and diarrheal diseases.

It is vital that vaccinations are taken for these diseases. Furthermore expats should ensure that all their regular vaccinations are up-to-date before moving to Angola. It is also essential that expats ensure that they have an adequate supply of anti-malarial tablets to cover them for the duration of their stay in the country. Preventative measures against bug bites such as the use of mosquito nets and insect repellent are recommended. As rabies is also a concern in Angola, it is best to avoid contact with animals in public spaces.

Emergency services and important numbers

Dialing 112 will put expats through to those operators dealing with medical emergencies. Unfortunately, ambulance services in Angola often don’t reach the more remote and rural areas, and operate almost exclusively in Luanda.

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