Tanzania Medical Insurance
The United Republic of Tanzania is located on the Eastern African continent. Tanzania is bordered to the south of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, to the west by Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the north by Kenya and Uganda and to east by the Indian Ocean. The country is divided into 26 regions or Mikoa, this includes Zanzibar, an autonomous region. Tanzania gained independence from the United Kingdom on the 9th of December 1961 while Zanzibar gained it’s independence on the 10 of December 1963; the two countries were merged into a single nation in 1964. The official language of Tanzania is Swahili, with English being spoken in higher education institutes and in Higher Courts. A population of over 42 million is spread over a landmass of 945,203 square kilometres. The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS).
In 2010, Tanzanian Gross Domestic Product was estimated at US$62.22 billion, this accounted for an average per capita income of US$1,500; however, despite a real growth rate of 6.4 percent on the previous year’s figures Tanzania is still considered one of the poorest countries in the world, with 36 percent of the population living below the international poverty of line of $1.25 a day according to 2002 estimates. The agriculture, manufacturing, and services sectors contributed to Tanzania’s GDP 42 percent, 18 percent and 40 percent respectively. It is estimated that 80 percent of the labour force is engaged in agriculture. The annual per capita expenditure by government on health care in 2007 was US$29.
The population of the United Republic of Tanzania receives health care services from government, Parastatal organisations, religious organisations, private practitioners, voluntary organisations and traditional medicine practitioners. The Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare oversees the administration of medical services throughout the country. The Ministry of Health is divided into three line divisions, two staff divisions and five units; namely, The Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Curative Health Services Division, Human Resources Development Division, Health Policy and Planning Division, and the Administration and Personnel Division.
The operation of the country’s health care services is based on a referral system with the first point of contact being the village/community health service. At district level, dispensaries, health centres and district hospitals operated by district councils offer second level services while tertiary services are provided by regional hospitals, specialist consultant hospitals, and national hospitals. In some cases patients are referred to doctors in foreign countries in order to receive medical care.
After the country gained independence in 1961, there were 22 health centres and 875 dispensaries in operation in Tanzania. These facilities, operated by local authorities, were poorly equipped to handle the medical needs of the approximately 11,700 people served by each medical center, many of the problems faced by the medical centers and dispensaries can be attributed to chronic understaffing and poor training for the healthcare professionals employed at the respective locations. At district level the population was served by 100 hospitals, 40 of which were under the administration of voluntary agencies.
There are currently 8500 village/community health posts, 3000 MCH clinics, 2644 dispensaries, 260 health centres, 98 district hospitals, 17 regional hospitals and 4 specialist referral hospitals in operation throughout Tanzania. Medical facilities are still considered limited throughout the country, especially outside Dares Salaam. Expatriates and Travellers in Tanzania are advised that medical services outside of the country’s main city will be virtually non-existent, and where they do exist, the quality of services offered will be well below the standards which may be expected by nationals of developed nations.
According to 2011 estimates, the Tanzanian birth rate was set at 32.64 births per 1,000 people while the infant mortality rate was set at 66.93 deaths per 1,000 births. The average life expectancy at birth is 51.34 years for a male and 54.42 years old for females. The adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the Tanzanian population is 5.6 percent ranking it the twelfth worst affected country in the world with an estimated 1.4 million people living with the disease. In 2009, the death of 86,000 people was contributed to HIV/AIDS.
Before any expatriates or travellers depart for Tanzania you are advised to check with a travel health care professional or doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations are up-to-date. Vaccine preventable diseases that may be discussed with your family doctor which are currently affecting the country include; Cholera, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, Meningococcal meningitis, Rabies, Tetanus, Tuberculosis, and Typhoid.
Pacific Prime highly encourages all Tanzania expatriates and travellers to consider the purchase of a comprehensive medical insurance policy before travelling to the country.
It is recommended that any Tanzania health insurance policy purchased by foreign nationals within the country should include an emergency evacuation benefit - this is to ensure that all emergency medical costs are covered. For example, should you be bitten by a wild or domestic animal on your trip, emergency post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment will have to be administered; treatment which may not be available in your current location due to the poor provision of healthcare within Tanzania. In many cases victims of serious illnesses of injuries will typically have transported, or possibly evacuated, by air-ambulance from the country which could, in some cases, cost in excess of US$10,000.
Malaria, a febrile illness which affects an individual’s red blood cells, is contracted from the bite of an anopheles mosquito that is infected with the parasite. There is a high risk of contracting the disease in all parts of Tanzania. This breed of mosquito feed predominately during the hours from dusk till dawn. Dengue fever, a viral disease, contracted from the bite of the Aedes mosquito is also a risk to travellers. The Aedes mosquitoes’ are concentrated in urban areas and feed during daylight hours. At present there are no vaccines available to prevent the contraction of Dengue fever. However, commonsense methods of prevention such as wearing long-sleeves and pants, insect repellent, using bed-nets and sleeping in air conditioned rooms are recommended.
Many areas of Tanzania are located over 2,500 meters above sea level. Due to the country’s varied topography and often extreme elevation, there is a risk of suffering from altitude sickness. To avoid illness altitude sickness in Tanzania, acclimatise yourself as you ascend. If you intend to ascent past 3,000 meters above sea level, then do so at a rate of 300 – 500 meter in sleeping altitude per day, and have a rest day every three days.
There is a high risk of contracting Schistosomiasis which is a parasitic flatworm infection of the intestinal or urinary system. Schistosomiasis is transmitted from freshwater snails that penetrate the intact skin of waders, swimmers or those washing clothes in fresh water streams, rivers or lakes. You are advised to avoid such activates and only swim, bath or wade in chlorinated water or sea water.
A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is a requirement for entry into Tanzania. You should consult with your country’s foreign affaires department, or the Tanzanian Diplomatic Mission, before travelling to Tanzania to ensure your passport has the necessary permissions and/or visa for entry into the country.
Road conditions in Tanzania are generally poor and there is a high volume of accidents, particularly involving inter-city buses. There were a number of tourists injured and some fatalities while travelling on overland buses between 2008 and 2009. If you suspect safe standards are not being adhered to while using a bus service in the country then disembark and find alternative means of transportation. Expatriates are advised to avoid driving after dark when possible, this is due to the increased risk of drunken drivers and thieves. Keep doors locked and windows closed at all times. If you are considering renting a car or motorbike while in Tanzania then you should be in possession of international driver’s license.
Piracy attacks in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden pose significant risk to sea farers and international shipping routes. Attacks have been known to occur within 1,000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia with a number of attacks taking place of the coast of Tanzania. Smaller vessels are targeted closer to shore and are consider more vulnerable than larger international transports. The Tanzanian Navy has limited ability to respond to such attacks.
Trekking and Safari activities are popular tourist attractions in Tanzania. Before you set off on an excursion ensure you are adequately equipped and informed on the local terrain and risk factors associated with your trip. In some case documentations and permits are required to enter national parks.
Violence and armed crime is on the increase in throughout the country with incidents being reports on both the mainland and the islands. Areas frequented by backpackers have been experiencing increased muggings and robberies and forced ATM withdrawals. It is strongly recommended that tourists, in particular women, avoid walking alone on beaches and isolated areas. One should remain vigilant at the Ubungo Bus station and in the city centre area of Dar es Salaam where tourist have been directly targeted by pickpockets, muggers and unlicensed taxis.
If you are considering spending any time in Tanzania contact Pacific Prime to discuss, free of charge, your individual or group Tanzania health insurance needs. Pacific Prime can offer a wealth of professional expertise and services. Our tailor made policies suit every budget and health care need no more what state of life you maybe at. For secure peace of mind for the duration of your stay contact Pacific Prime today to receive a free health insurance quote.