Burkina Faso Medical Insurance
Burkina Faso is a landlocked nation in the Sahel region of West Africa. It is surrounded by six different countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the south east, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the south west. With a land size of around 274,200 square kilometers and an estimated 15,757,000 inhabitants; Burkina Faso has a high population density. The capital city, Ouagadougou, is home to over one and a half million people. Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2010 Burkina Faso ranked 161st out of 169 on the WHO’s Human Development Index. Nearly half the population lives below the poverty line and over 65% live on less than a dollar a day. The economy is mostly based on subsistence agriculture (cotton primarily), which employs about 90% of the active population and is highly vulnerable to variations in rainfall and global crop prices. A large contributor to economic activity is international aid. Those traveling to Burkina Faso should take heart because the country is one of the most politically stable in the region and is developing numerous cultural and tourism opportunities.
The state of health care in Burkina Faso is poor. Life expectancy is only around 47 years. Infant mortality is 97 per 1000 births, and nearly one in five children dies before the age of five. In cities access to potable water is good at around 82 %, but in rural areas less than half the population has access to clean sources of water. About one third of Burkinabe children are underweight. The main causes of death in Burkina Faso include lower respiratory diseases, malaria, and diarrhea. Other diseases in the country include onchocerciasis, sleeping sickness, leprosy, yellow fever, and schistosomiasis. Periodic droughts have contributed to malnutrition and related ailments, particularly among young children and pregnant women. Burkina Faso has a lower incidence of HIV/AIDS than many other African countries, but at 1.6% of the adult population, the prevalence rate is still higher than global averages. The overall medical needs of the country are substantial and remain largely unsatisfied.
The government of Burkina Faso is committed to improving health in the country. Beginning in 1993 reforms were brought about, aiming to decentralize the health care system and expand the coverage network, prioritizing primary care and the provision of essential drugs to the populace. Laws and regulations were passed to promote more autonomous governance of health districts and hospitals. Public expenditures in health have increased from 6.3% of the state budget in 2001 to 8.4% in 2008. However, in real terms the funds dedicated to the health sector are inadequate and there are large gaps in health service needs and the existing provision of services. While this investment has expanded infrastructure, almost 80% of the population now lives within 5 km of a public primary care facility, quality resources and personnel remain concentrated in a few central urban areas.
The Burkinabe healthcare system has three levels of governance: the central administration, under the authority of the Minister’s Cabinet is responsible for setting national policy; the intermediate level run by the regional health administrations; and the peripheral level, under the authority of the health districts, which are headed by a district medical officer. There are 13 of these regions and 63 health districts in Burkina Faso. Each district covers a population of between 150,000 – 200,000 people. Primary health care facilities (Centre de Santé et de Promotion Sociale) are the most dispersed basic health service structure. They provide local Burkinabe communities with vaccinations to children and pregnant women as well as general medical needs or referrals to district hospitals. District hospitals, of which there are 42, are managed by physicians trained in essential surgery. Further secondary care is provided through the 9 regional hospitals in Burkina Faso. These hospitals also receive medical evacuation cases from the districts in their region. The highest levels of referral are sent to the three national hospitals based in the central cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, which can provide tertiary care. There are also a few private clinics available in major cities.
Burkina Faso’s healthcare system is funded by a combination of private user fees from households, public funding from the state, and international aid. Formal health insurance has been limited to salaried and state employees. As the country has remained very poor, there are few resources available to maintain a quality health care infrastructure. Shortages in medical supplies, health professionals, inadequate medical equipment and the remoteness of numerous Burkinabe towns and villages remain persistent problems. These issues are passed on to the patients themselves with high out-of-pocket payments that the majority of the population cannot afford. Relatively high prices and a very limited capacity for contribution have maintained obstacles to health care access, leading to declining primary care attendance figures and more families left impoverished by medical expenses.
It is strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance or international medical insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart for Burkina Faso. Foreign nationals will find the medical facilities and emergency hospital care are very limited, particularly in areas outside Ouagadougou. Doctors and hospitals will expect immediate cash payment before performing any treatment. Emergency response services, such as ambulances, are in extremely short supply and poorly equipped. In many areas, emergency services are completely unavailable. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. In the event of an emergency in a more remote area medical transportation costs can become very expensive.
Recommended vaccinations for visitors to Burkina Faso include diphtheria, hepatitis A, rabies, tetanus, typhoid, and yellow fever. Malaria is also widespread in Burkina Faso, so be sure to ask your doctor for anti-malarial medicine beforehand. Insect repellant and bed nets are suggested to avoid being bitten by malaria-carrying pests. Clean drinking water may also be unavailable, so be sure to avoid ice cubes and always carry your own bottled water. Some medicines will be available through local pharmacies, though supplies can be limited. Travelers requiring specific pharmaceuticals should bring an adequate supply for the duration of their stay in Burkina Faso.
Pacific Prime will consult and offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs should you plan to travel to Burkina Faso. We offer a wide variety of health care plans and travel insurance policies with possible benefit packages including dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many more. Please contact our professional advisors today for a free quote and enjoy the security that our extensive Global Health Insurance Plans can provide.