Friday, 6th December 2013
Relocation to South Africa - Health Care
IntroductionWhen you are living and working abroad, it is more important than ever to protect your family's health and well-being. We strongly recommend that you have health insurance before you move to South Africa.
Below is a brief overview of the health care issues in South Africa, and some suggestions on how best to safeguard your health while you are living in the country.
Standards of careHealth care standards in South Africa are among the best on the African continent, especially in urban and coastal areas. South Africa has numerous public and private hospitals, homes and clinics, and facilities in Johannesburg are particularly impressive. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate payment for health services, but they do accept all major credit cards.
To ensure you can get a consistent level of service and avoid having to pay medical bills up front, see the PMI section below for advice about suitable expatriate health cover.
Food and DrinkWherever you travel in the world, it is important to make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Tap water is considered safe to drink in urban areas of South Africa. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products, local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are all generally considered safe to eat.
Diseases and vaccinationsInfectious diseases are a concern in all parts of Africa, so it is vital to take up-to-date medical advice before moving. See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.There is no risk for yellow fever in South Africa, and a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers arriving from infected areas. Vaccination against typhoid and polio are strongly recommended (although not required by law), and vaccines for hepatitis A&B and rabies may also be advisable.
The climate in low altitude areas of South Africa lends itself to the spread of malaria, and the malignant falciparum form exists throughout the year in the Northern Province, Eastern Transvaal (including the Kruger National Park) and northeastern KwaZulu/Natal as far south as the Tugela River.
However, anti-malaria tablets are available (most travelers take mefloquine) and simple measures can be taken to avoid mosquito bites. You can avoid other insect-carried diseases such as dengue and filariasis too, by using insect repellant and wearing long, loose clothing after dark.
Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools), to avoid catching the parasitic infection schistosomiasis.
HIV and AIDS are spreading quickly throughout the African continent - as they are throughout the rest of the world - so an awareness of the potential dangers and preventative action is important.
Medical and Health InsuranceBy choosing a private health insurer, you can rely on a personal service and consistently high level of care. The most suitable companies are those that cater specifically for the expatriate market, offering schemes tailored for people who are living and working abroad.
Our chosen health care partner is the world's largest expatriate health insurer, BUPA International, which protects over a 8 million members in 190 countries worldwide. They offer a flexible range of schemes designed to give you access to the very best health care available, whenever and wherever you need it. Benefits include access to a 24 hour multi-lingual help line, and direct settlement arrangements with nearly 5,000 hospitals and clinics worldwide. There are various options available, including evacuation and repatriation services, which take you straight to the nearest centre of medical excellence, or back to your home country, if the situation requires it.