Health Insurance in Botswana
Are you planning a move to Botswana? Or perhaps you’re just visiting? Either way, this guide provides you with an overview of the healthcare system in the country, with helpful information regarding how to access medical services, whether or not you need health insurance, and other travel-related tips. In addition to this, you’ll also find out how to secure health insurance in Botswana. Read on to learn more, or click below for a free quote!
The Republic of Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordering South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. The country “Bo” of the “Tswana'' tribe is rich and diverse in culture, with numerous minority tribes, including the famous Khoisan Bushman of the Kalahari Desert, whose language made up of a series of clicking sounds has inspired generations of linguists. The official language of the country is English and Setswana. Its capital city is Gaborone, which is home to roughly 10% of its 2.2 million population.
Long regarded as a role model for post-colonial development in sub-Saharan Africa following independence from Britain in 1966, Botswana’s economic growth and national health system experienced a severe negative shock with the growing AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. But thanks to aggressive government intervention and the provision of free anti-HIV/AIDS drugs to citizens, the rate of growth of the disease has declined and Botswana now ranks among the fastest-growing economies in the world. It is considered a “middle-income” country, relying heavily on diamond and beef exports, as well as tourism.
Healthcare system in Botswana
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been involved with restructuring Botswana’s Ministry of Health, offering both technical expertise and financial assistance in order to efficiently combat the unique healthcare challenges of this sparsely populated country. In Botswana, 98% of all healthcare facilities come under the public healthcare sector. Despite this, expats in Botswana will find a large gap between quality of care at public and private facilities. Like in much of Africa, the public healthcare sector predominately caters to lower socioeconomic groups, while expats and affluent locals rely on the private healthcare system or travel abroad for treatment.
Government spending and public healthcare challenges
Government spending makes up approximately 80 - 90% of total health expenditure in Botswana according to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the country’s healthcare spending per capita is in line with those of other emerging market countries. But, life expectancy in the country is relatively low. Its low population density makes the delivery of healthcare difficult, particularly in rural areas.
The WTO also cites high attrition levels among healthcare workers, likely due to the unique and difficult challenges presented by the high rates of HIV/AIDS in the local populace. As in the rest of the region, the effects of the AIDS epidemic have been quite serious. Free antiretroviral drugs and a program to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child have proven effective in recent years.
Public vs private healthcare providers
Public healthcare providers focus on disease prevention. A nominal fee of USD $70 is charged for most health services in the public sector, while sexual reproductive health services and antiretroviral therapy services are provided free of charge. However, public health facilities are mainly located in Gaborone. As such, there is limited access to healthcare outside the capital city, and standards are lower as well.
Private hospitals offer a better quality of care in Botswana, as doctors in these hospitals are generally trained abroad. However, urgent care needs may not be met and patients will need to be airlifted to a country with adequate treatment options. This will most likely be to neighboring Johannesburg, South Africa. As such, expatriates visiting Botswana are advised to purchase a comprehensive international health insurance policy with an emergency evacuation benefit.
Botswana Travel Advice
For those of you making a trip to Botswana anytime soon, you’re advised to secure a travel insurance plan, if you aren’t already in possession of a valid international health insurance plan. This ensures that you’ll be covered in the event of health emergencies whilst in the country. Apart from this, here are some other useful health-related travel tips to consider:
Vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) before travel to Botswana include routine immunizations such as measles, mumps & rubella (MMR), diptheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), and poliovirus vaccines. In addition to this, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and Rabies vaccines are also recommended for travelers approximately 4 to 6 weeks before their departure to Botswana.
Malaria and antimalarial medication
Certain parts of Botswana are high malaria risk areas. Prevention should include long trousers and sleeves, bed nets, and antimalarial medication to be discussed with your physician. The CDC recommends purchasing antimalarial drugs before traveling to Botswana to ensure safety and quality. Note that Choloroqine is an ineffective antimalarial medication in Botswana and should not be taken. Halofantrine is also regarded as an extremely powerful antimalarial with serious side effects and should only be used in an emergency if there are no other alternatives.
Other diseases and prevention measures
Several diseases associated with insect bites, including those from the tsetse fly, are very common in rural southern Africa, so caution is suggested. Wearing long-sleeved clothing and using insect repellent with DEET is recommended. Furthermore, there are several freshwater-borne contaminants, so only swim in pools treated with chlorine. Also, rabies is prevalent in the bat population, so visits to caves should be avoided or entered with extreme caution. Food and water-based diseases are the most common for travelers. Be sure to drink bottled water, wash hands often with soap or hand sanitizer, and avoid eating raw foods.
Please note that the information on this page is not fully comprehensive and is subject to change without prior warning. It is advisable to consult with a local Botswana embassy should you have any doubts before you depart on your journey.
Private health insurance for expats in Botswana
Looking for health insurance in Botswana with coverage for medical evacuation? This is highly sensible as the country’s quality of healthcare is behind what you may be used to. Nevertheless, it’s important to properly compare health insurance plans, and that’s where Pacific Prime comes in. As a global health insurance broker, with over 20 years of experience, our job is to help you find the right plan for your needs and budgets, whether that’s a plan that covers:
- Inpatient treatments
- Outpatient treatments
- And so much more.
We leverage our partnerships with top insurers to offer vetted expat health insurance plans to foreign nationals in Botswana. In addition to this, we also have a team of friendly and knowledgeable advisors on hand, ready to support you and answer any questions you may have. If you’d like to learn more about your health insurance options, simply reach out to us for a no-obligation quote and insurance consultation!