Cape Verde Medical Insurance
Health care facilities are extremely limited in Cape Verde. Expats living on the islands of Santiago and Sano Vicente can receive basic medical care at the local public hospitals in Praia and Mindelo, respectively. Other islands in Cape Verde have medical clinics, funded by the government, where very basic medical care can be received. The public healthcare system in Cape Verde provides free access to hospitals and medical clinics to all citizens and visitors from overseas. However the medical care provided in these public facilities is very basic. Due to the increase of tourism on the island of Sal, a private medical clinic has been built in Santa Maria. Designed for foreign patients and staffed by international doctors, the medical clinic provides basic health care services.
In the event of a serious health condition or accident, air evacuation to Santiago or overseas to the Canary Islands will be required. Air transportation is highly expensive, and can amount to over US$50,000. As such, a comprehensive health insurance plan that includes cover for emergency evacuation and repatriation services is highly recommended for expats living in Cape Verde.
Cape Verde lacks the appropriate control measures in preventing and treating epidemics. As a result the country is vulnerable to outbreaks of communicable diseases. As such, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides technical assistance and monitors the country's health information system, in order to assist the country in achieving a stable health care system.
A major outbreak of dengue fever occurred in Cape Verde in September 2009 following a short period of torrential rain. It is the first outbreak ever recorded in Cape Verde, and the worst outbreak registered in western Africa. The outbreak resulted in 6 reported deaths, over 3,000 confirmed dengue fever cases requiring treatment, and up to 13,000 suspected dengue cases. Cape Verde depended on foreign assistance provided by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as well as other international organizations. The country was provided with education on prevention and eradication, basic medical supplies, and assisted with the referral of suspected cases to hospitals.
Cape Verde is susceptible to further outbreaks of dengue fever or malaria. As such, expats need to exercise high caution during the rainy season which tends to fall between months of August to September. Expats should wear insect repellent and long sleeved clothing. A mosquito net can be used during the night and it is also advisable to take malaria prophylaxis medication.
Intestinal parasites and bacterial infections are prevalent in Cape Verda including guinea worms, tapeworms, amebiasis, giardiasis, brucellosis, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. These illnesses are often presented initially by symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea; and are transmitted predominantly via food and water sources. Expats living in Cape Verda should therefore drink bottled water only, otherwise sterilization of water can be achieved through boiling or using chlorine tablets. It is also advised to only eat meat and fish that is well cooked, as well as fruit and vegetables that are peeled or cooked. If symptoms occur, immediate medical attention is required, particularly among children who are susceptible to rapid dehydration.
Volcanoes are present on Cape Verde’s islands, although the only active volcano is located on Fogo Island, which last erupted in 1995. Approximately 20 civilians were treated with medical issues associated with the inhalation of volcanic ash. There were no reported fatalities. Cape Verde has adopted a Volcanic Disaster Assistance Program, funded by US Aid and the US Geological Survey. Volcanic eruptions and tremors can occur again on Fogo island, as such, expats need to be aware of evacuation plans and seek medical attention if respiratory symptoms occur following an event.
Emergency protocols should be adopted by residents in Cape Verde during the event of an accident, serious illness or criminal offense. Emergency services are available on Santiago island. To call the police department within Santiago dial 1-3-2, for the fire brigade service dial 1-3-1, or ambulance service dial 1-3-0.
For air transportation services, expats living in Cape Verde can contact Cape Verde Express by dialing +238-991-2813.