Niger Medical Insurance
The Niger Republic is a landlocked country located in West Africa, situated north of Nigeria. Niger has a population of approximately 15 million people and an area of 1.267 million square kilometers. Niamey is the capital and largest city in Niger with a population of approximately 783,000 people. Niger's economy consists predominantly of livestock, uranium and self sufficiency farming. The country experiences environmental challenges; due to its hot, dry climate Niger suffers from long periods of drought and consequential widespread famine.
Niger has one of the poorest economies in the world. Frequent periods of severe drought devastate the country's food resources, affecting the population’s health and weakening economic progress. Niger's history of political instability and corruption have contributed to the country's poor standard of social, health and welfare conditions. Further to this, Niger's failure to manage corruption has discouraged foreign investment and international aid. Together, these factors make it very difficult for Niger to improve it's circumstances.
Drought has affected Niger throughout history. After the country gained its independence in 1960, Niger suffered one of its worst ever drought disasters. Over the years, there has been little relief from drought, resulting in what is known as the West Africa Food Crisis. All areas of Niger are affected by droughts and consequential food and water shortages, predominantly affecting the Tillaberi, Tahoua, Maradi, Diffa, Agadez, Zinder and Gaya regions.
During Niger's severe droughts, livestock and agricultural crops are consumed or destroyed. The increase in animal deaths poses a threat to the entire population by often contaminating waters with animal carcasses and spreading disease. Drought is particularly detrimental to the rural communities who rely solely on farming crops for daily meals. As a result, around 40 percent of children in Niger are suffering from malnutrition. Those affected by malnutrition are unable to fight disease, as a result, a third of children die before the age of five. To assist the population, there are a number of feeding centers funded by international aid and located throughout rural Niger, providing basic emergency stabilization and nutritional rehabilitation.
Niger has also suffered from intermittent periods of flooding. In 2009, Niger suffered a flood which displaced around 200,000 people and caused a widespread epidemic of waterborne diseases. Flooding destroys agricultural crops, contributing further to Niger's famine crisis. In 2009, around 80,000 animals died, posing a further threat to the spread of waterborne diseases.
It is highly important that expats and visitors in Niger practice high caution during periods of drought and flooding, due to the increased risk of communicable diseases. To minimize the risk of getting sick in Niger, it is highly important to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands prior to handling food and after use of the toilet. While bottled water is preferred as a drinking source, it is not readily accessible throughout Niger. Water purification can be achieved by boiling water and using chlorine tablets.
Due to insufficient funding, Niger is not able to provide adequate health care resources to meet the needs of its population. Niger has one of the lowest doctor to patient ratios worldwide. With shortages of health care staff, medical equipment and basic medications, more than half of Niger's population has limited access to health care services. Medical care in Niger is provided largely by charitable, religious and non-government organizations. International health care aides work within Niger's government facilities and in support of health care projects that are administered in urban and rural communities.
Government hospitals are predominantly located in the capital Niamey, as well as Maradi, Zinder, and Tahoua; with medical centers located in smaller towns. Government hospitals and clinics within Niamey include the National Hospital, Hospital National De Lamorde, Clinique Jean Kaba, and Clinique du Plateau, where basic primary health care services can be received.
There are no adequate emergency services in Niger and the country lacks basic medical equipment and medications. As such, emergency evacuation to a hospital overseas, such as Morocco, will be required to receive the appropriate level of medical care. The cost of air transportation is highly expensive and can cost more than USD$50,000. As such, expats in Niger are highly recommended to obtain a Niger international health insurance plan which includes coverage for emergency evacuation and repatriation, as well as coverage for medical expenses within Niger and overseas.
There are a small number of private hospitals and clinics in Niger. The Galmi Hospital is located in a small city called Galmi, which is located close to the border with Nigeria, approximately 500 kilometers east of the capital Niamey. Funded by Serving in Mission, an international christian organization, the Galmi Hospital provides primary health care and general surgery services. Patients travel from all areas of Niger and Nigeria to receive the higher standard of health care services in which it can provide. The Galmi Hospital specializes in nutritional rehabilitation and HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis screening and treatment services.
Niger is susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases due to its poor ability to appropriately manage and control communicable diseases. Lack of health care resources, poor sanitation, and limited access to potable water put this developing country at a high risk of disease outbreaks. Less than half of Niger's population have access to potable water and more than 80 percent have inadequate access to sanitation. Communicable diseases that are highly prevalent include respiratory infections, hepatitis A, malaria, rabies, measles, tetanus, and waterborne parasitical and bacterial infections. Vaccinations are recommended for expats and travelers to Niger to assist in the protection against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, polio, yellow fever, meningococcal diseases and rabies.
International government bodies have placed restrictions on traveling to regions of Niger due to the high risk of kidnapping and violent activity within certain areas of the country. The border areas of Mali and Niger, and the northern and western regions of Niger, pose a higher risk of kidnappings and violence. These northern areas at higher risk specifically include Tillaberi, Tahoua, Agadez, and Arlit. The security situation is unpredictable in Niger and expats and travelers to the country should exercise high caution and monitor the media for travel warnings and restrictions within Niger. Kidnappings have been successful in the past decade, particularly against westerners. Theft and violence is not uncommon in Niger and during election, public riots can turn violent.
Emergency protocols should be adopted by expats living in Niger in the event of a serious accident, illness or criminal event. To call the police department within Niger dial 1-7; or fire brigade dial 1-8. It is important to note that emergency response is very limited in Niger.
At Pacific Prime, we can help you find an appropriate Medical Insurance policy to fit your needs, with optional benefits including outpatient care, maternity, dental and more. For more information about Niger medical insurance plans, or to receive a free Insurance Quote, please contact one of our dedicated advisors today.