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While Mozambique might seem an idyllic paradise for holidaymakers, the country struggles with high levels of poverty and infrastructural issues which facilitate the spread of disease. The public healthcare system in Mozambique is basic and limited. Expats are not entitled to public healthcare so are forced to rely on a handful of private healthcare facilities, most of which are found in Maputo. Most expats, as well as wealthier local people, opt to travel to South Africa for elective procedures.
The Maputo Private Hospital, opened in 2012, was the first private hospital in Mozambique. It is fully equipped to deal with emergencies as well as obstetrics, paediatrics and radiology. Other private hospitals have opened since, and expats are advised to do careful research about the healthcare facilities in their area.
Private clinics can be found in Maputo and larger cities in Mozambique. Doctors at these medical institutions are often expats themselves and are well-trained, experienced and speak good English. Expats should be prepared to pay for their treatments upfront, sometimes in cash, and claim from their health insurer afterwards.
For more complex procedures or specialist advice, expats often prefer to cross the border into South Africa. As a result, it is important that expats ensure their healthcare policy covers them for treatment in both countries.
Mozambique has little to offer in terms of private health insurance so it’s essential that expats invest in a comprehensive health insurance plan with an international insurer. As it is common for patients to be airlifted to South Africa, expats should ensure their policy covers medical evacuation. International health insurance providers often cover services that national policies won’t, therefore it is wise to do your research before choosing an insurance plan.
Pharmacies in Mozambique tend to be limited to major cities and the capital, Maputo. Medications are mostly imported and everyday medicines are usually available, but because supply can be unreliable expats should check the expiry dates. It’s a good idea to know the chemical name for important medications, as brand names vary and generics are often the only available option.
Mozambique lies in a malaria zone, so expats should take the necessary precautions. Avoiding mosquito bites by using nets, candles and sprays is recommended, but the safest way to avoid malaria is medication. Anti-malarial pills should be purchased before travelling to Mozambique but additional supplies are available at local pharmacies.
Vaccinations for diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid are also advised for those travelling or moving to Mozambique. Bilharzia, a parasitic infection found in fresh water, is also a danger. Tap water in Mozambique is not safe to drink, so bottled or boiled water should be used instead.
Mozambique has a high rate of HIV, so expats should actively take precautions to protect themselves. If there is any suspicion of exposure to HIV, antiretroviral drugs are available at private hospitals and clinics.
There is no national emergency number in Mozambique. Private ambulances are available in the capital but outside Maputo such services are generally unreliable due to the poor state of the national roads. Air evacuations are usually the best option to get to a hospital fast. Various reputable companies provide excellent medical services and can transport patients to Johannesburg or Cape Town.