Health Insurance Uzbekistan
The former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan is one of the largest countries in central Asia. Interestingly, it is one of only two “doubly landlocked” countries in the world; in other words, Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein the only landlocked countries which are entirely surrounded by landlocked countries. Uzbekistan is largely dry, with desert covering much of the country. Intensive agriculture via irrigation dating back to the Soviet era has caused serious environmental damage from which the country has yet to recover. Although it is a relatively poor country, Uzbekistan does have considerable natural resources, including minerals and various other commodities. Its position on the ancient silk road connecting Europe and Asia have left its mark on Uzbek culture, cuisine, art and music; its current population is majority Uzbek, but several other central Asian ethnic groups make up significant minorities. While Uzbek is the national language, Karakalpak is a recognized regional language and Russian is often used for communication between ethnic groups.
Life expectancy in Uzbekistan is about in line with the average for countries with similar economic status; 66 years for males and 71 for females. Total annual per capita health expenditure is USD152, which represents 5.2 percent of GDP and about 11 percent of the government budget. The overall spending figure represents a decline of about 50 percent in real terms since the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to World Health Organisation classification, Uzbekistan is considered part of the European region, hence its health care spending represents only a small fraction of the regional average. Government spending accounts for 47.4 percent of total health expenditure, while the remainder comes almost entirely from out of pocket spending. Although a plan to introduce private insurance was announced in 2001, to date there is no local private health insurance in Uzbekistan. Private dental clinics began to emerge following the fall of the Soviet Union.
As a legacy from Soviet times, Uzbekistan does offer universal health care; hence the Uzbek utilisation of health care services is above the European average. According to WHO figures, 100 percent of Uzbek births are attended by a skilled health care professional, compared to a regional average of 98 percent. There is little inequity in the provision of basic health care services, with poor and rural Uzbeks having equal access to health clinics and hospitals. The Uzbek healthcare workforce is adequately staffed; its 26.2 doctors and 108.1 nurses per 10,000 population are in line with European norms. There are over 3,000 “polyclinics” in the country, plus 59 private hospitals where payment must be made in cash.
In terms of infectious diseases, Uzbekistan’s rate of HIV infection is very low, with only one case per 1000 adults (only about one fourth of the European average). However, upgraded patient registration and increasing drug abuse may see this figure grow in the future. Tuberculosis infection rates are much higher than the global rate, with 227 cases per 100,000 population.
Also, public health investment has led to near universal access to improved drinking water sources in urban areas, although rural Uzbeks have seen access to clean water decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Uzbeks also have near universal access to improved sanitation, although it must be said that toilet facilities would rarely meet developing world standards. Despite these figures, Uzbeks suffer from several diseases attributed to unclean drinking water, such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.
The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) have issued a number of travel warnings on polio outbreaks in central Asia, most recently in March 2011. Although most people are vaccinated against this, a booster immunsation shot may be required. The Uzbekistan Embassy recommends a Hepatitis A shot, although no other immunsation is legally required to enter the country. Furthermore, the CDC has drafted a number of guidelines for visitors to Uzbekistan.
As with a visit to any developing country, seeing a travel health specialist four to six weeks before your journey is highly recommended to ensure that routine immunisations are up to date. Although malaria cases are rare in Uzbekistan, there have been reported cases near the Afghan and Tajik borders. Since malaria risk is very low, prophylactic anti-malarial pills are not recommended, but using insect repellent with DEET and wearing long-sleeved clothing are suggested.
In Uzbekistan, as with any exotic destination, communicable diseases tend to inspire the most fear in travellers, but the greatest health risks there (or anywhere) come from gastrointestinal distress from undercooked food or unclean water. Over the counter medication can be taken for acute cases, but persistent diarrheoa or vomiting should be treated by a physician. Another major cause of health problems for tourists is automobile accidents; these are often attributed to unfamiliarity with local terrain, traffic laws and regulations, or drink driving.
Although Uzbekistan does provide universal health care, the standard of care does not measure up to that in developed countries. In emergency medical situations, costly evacuation by airlift may be required. To be prepared for such cases, it is critically important that insurance and other health care arrangements are planned beforehand.
Uzbekistan International Health Insurance
Before visiting central Asia and Uzbekistan, make a call to Globalsurance. Our dedicated roster of experienced health insurance advisors can provide detailed options on policies for solo travelers, families and tour groups. Insurance policies available through Globalsurance cover a full range of medical services including: dental, maternity, specialist consultation, transportation, inpatient services and more. Contact a Globalsurance advisor today for a free international medical insurance consultation.