Botswana Health Insurance & Healthcare System
Botswana is a country located in the southern region of the African continent. It is bordered by South Africa in the south, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the northeast, and Namibia in the northwest. Botswana has a population of approximately 12.5 million people and a land area of 390,757 square kilometers. The bulk of Botswana's population is confined to the eastern region of the country. Located 15 kilometers from the South African border, the capital Gaborone is the most populous city in the country. The Kalahari Desert, which covers two thirds of the country, is home to various predator species. Today, the Kalahari Desert is a popular African safari tourist destination.
Since gaining independence in 1966, the country has achieved political and economical stability. However, Botswana struggles with having the world's second highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Approximately 1 in 4 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Botswana, with the highest incidence among 15-49 year olds and those who work in the mining and sex industry. The HIV/AIDs problem in Botswana has reduced the adult population, resulting in a large number of orphaned children and a loss of workers and skilled population.
The Botswana Government is hoping to improve the country's health and welfare status with particular focus on reducing HIV/AIDS, unemployment, homelessness, poverty and crime. A large number of government and international non profit organizations aim to eradicate HIV/AIDS through education and awareness, condom distribution, and improvement of blood screening services in hospitals. In 2001, Botswana was the first African country to introduce antiretroviral drugs to its HIV/AIDS population.
Health care services in Botswana are confined to the capital Gaborone and other urban cities in the country including Francis Town, which is located in the east of the country, close to the Zimbabwe border. Emergency and specialized health care services are limited outside urban areas and virtually non existent in rural areas. The public health system in Botswana consists of referral hospitals, health clinics and mobile health centers. The highest level of medical care is available at private health care facilities in Botswana, including the Life Gaborone Private Hospital.
Primary health care is provided through district and primary hospitals, urban health clinics and mobile health centers throughout Botswana. Patients who require specialized care in Botswana are referred to the referral hospitals including the Princess Marina Hospital or the Life Gaborone Private Hospital in Gaborone, or the Nyangabgwe Hospital in Francistown. Both the Princess Marina Hospital and the Nyangabgwe Hospital offers adequate diagnostic equipment including CT and MRI scanning equipment.
The Life Gaborone Private Hospital is a member of Life Healthcare, one of the largest private hospital groups in South Africa. The Life Gaborone Private Hospital provides a wide range of specialized services including gynaecology, internal medicine, neonatology, obstetrics, paediatrics, neurosurgery, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, thoracic surgery, and urology.
Expats are highly recommended to attend private health care facilities in Botswana due to the higher level of medical care and the high doctor-patient ratio. Public hospitals in Botswana were initially built to service the immediate area in which they are located; however, rural patients will often travel nation wide to receive relatively higher standard of health care services at hospitals outside of their vicinity, resulting in long waiting lists and overcrowding at the nation’s ‘best’ public medical facilities. While the problems evident within the country’s public system are not present within the nation’s private medical services, there are still issues; specifically, the cost of treatment. Receiving medical treatment at the Life Gaborone Private Hospital will be much more expensive than utilizing one of the country’s public medical facilities, which is further compounded by the fact that the Life Gaborone Private Hospital requires all patients to have some form of Botswana health insurance prior to hospital admission. As such, it is highly recommended that expats living in Botswana obtain a comprehensive Botswana international health insurance policy, ensuring ease of access to quality medical services in the country.
Communicable diseases are highly prevalent in Botswana including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tick bite fever. During the rainy season in Botswana, which is typically between the months of September to March, outbreaks of water borne and vector borne diseases are more likely to occur.
Malaria and tick bite fever are highly prevalent in Botswana. Areas in Botswana considered to be malaria free include the south, south-central and southwest regions of the country. During the rainy season the appropriate safety precautions need to be practiced to reduce the risk of a bite from an infected tick or mosquito. Mosquito nets should be used during the night, and expats should wear long sleeved clothing and insect repellent. Symptoms of malaria and tick bite fever typically present with high fevers, joint aches and swelling, or skin rashes.
Snakes bites are highly prevalent in Botswana. There are 12 venomous types of snake out of the 60 snake species present in Botswana. Expats should practice safety precautions against snake bites, particularly when visiting rural, undergrowth areas. Shoes, socks and long sleeved garments should be worn to protect the body. In the case of a snake bite, the victim should immediately immobilize the bitten area. It is highly important that the victim identifies the snake in order to establish if the snake is venomous and which anti-venom serum is required if so.
Urgent medical attention is required to treat these potentially life threatening illnesses and accidents. Emergency services are very limited in rural and remote areas of Botswana. In the event of a medical emergency in Botswana, air transportation to the capital Gaborone or to an overseas hospital in South Africa, Namibia or Kenya may be required. The costs associated with an emergency medical evacuation can be extremely high and as such, expats living in Botswana should obtain a medical insurance plan that includes worldwide international medical coverage for as well as emergency evacuation and repatriation services.
Those who have visited countries with yellow fever present are required to produce an international certificate of vaccination when entering Botswana. It is also recommended that expats and travelers to Botswana obtain vaccinations in protection against Hepatitis A, typhoid, Hepatitis B, tetanus-diphtheria, rabies, measles, mumps and rubella. Due to high rate of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, it is highly important to seek immediate medical attention in the event of sexual violence or injury.
Emergency protocols should be adopted by residents to avoid risk of injury during the event of an accident, serious illness or criminal event. The contact number for ambulance services in Botswana is 9-9-7; fire services 9-9-8; and police services 9-9-9.
Med Rescue International Botswana is a medical evacuation service available for emergencies within the country. To contact Med Rescue dial 9-1-1.
Globalsurance is able to provide an extensive range of comprehensive medical insurance products to expatriates located around the world. For more information about Botswana medical insurance plans, or to receive a free International Health Insurance Quote, please contact one of our dedicated advisers today.