Comoros Medical Insurance
The Union of the Comoros is made up of most of the islands of the Comoros archipelago off of the east coast of Africa; French-held Mayotte remains disputed territory. Culturally, the volcanic islands retain an interesting mix of Arabic, African and French influence and Comorian, Arabic and French are the official languages. Despite its small geographic size, with a population of less than one million, it ranks amongst the most densely populated countries in the world. Comoros has also been marked by severe poverty, as well as bouts of political instability since achieving independence in 1975, and was the site of four of famed French mercenary Bob Denard’s numerous coups d’etat.
The tropical island nation, located between Mozambique on the mainland and the island of Madagascar, is prone to many of the diseases common to regions with similar climate, including malaria and dengue. Its poverty, relative geographic isolation, and reliance on overseas shipping make it particularly sensitive to the introduction of foreign infectious agents.
As a poor island nation, the economy of Comoros is highly dependent on agricultural production (it is the world’s leading producer of ylang-ylang, used in aromatherapy) and is heavily reliant on foreign aid to make up for frequent shortfalls in production. While high population density normally aids in the transportation of goods and services, its percentage of urban residents remains low. Population clusters largely surround areas of intensive agricultural production. Analysts fear that this continued rural population growth, with lack of concomitant productivity gains, could be a precursor to catastrophic environmental problems and would certainly negatively affect the overall health of inhabitants.
Health concerns are a serious issue in Comoros, a country with a life expectancy of only 62 for males and 67 for females. Government spending on health care is a very low USD35 per capita, which makes up about 3.2 percent of GDP. Even by the already low standards of this very poor region, this is a very small amount – about one-third of the regional average. Only 1.5 physicians serve each 10,000 residents, lower than even the paltry 2.4 per 10,000 regionally; and only 7.4 nurses and midwives are available for each 10,000, which is also low for this poor region.
Government expenditure makes up about 58.7 percent of Comorian total health expenditure (THE), about one third of which comes from external financing and aid from other countries and multilateral organizations. The remainder of health care is privately funded entirely from out of pocket expenses as no public health care infrastructure worthy of mention exists in Comoros. However, despite these disadvantages, Comoros has managed to keep its HIV / AIDS and tuberculosis rates below even the global average, despite their prevalence throughout the African region.
Access to potable drinking water is available to over 90 percent of the population, which is unusual for a poor country, but is likely attributable to the high population density and small size of Comoros, as well as the efforts of external aid workers.
Travelers to Comoros are advised to meet with a physician four to six weeks before departure. At minimum, routine vaccines such as measles, mumps & rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis & tetanus (DPT), polio vaccines, hepatitis and typhoid are strongly recommended. Rabies vaccines should be updated for those traveling to areas where contact with wild animals is likely. As mentioned above, malaria is very common in the region and throughout the country, and proper precautions such as mosquito nets, long sleeved clothing and anti-malarial drugs are recommended. The Centers for Disease Control recommend bringing antimalarials from your home nation, and note that chloroquine is not effective in Comoros and halofantrine should only be used in emergencies where there are no alternative treatments. Anti-diarrhea drugs, sun protection, water filters and purification tablets, insect repellent with DEET, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and iodine tablets are all strongly recommended items for travelers or long term visitors.
The islands of the Indian Ocean also have occasional outbreaks of other insect-borne diseases, including, but not limited to: filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness) as well as chikungunya. Parasitic infections may be spread through swimming in still water; ponds and lakes should be avoided and it is recommended to limit swims to chlorinated pools. Also, the plague is not unknown to the region, so maintaining proper sanitation as much as possible is advised.
While pre-travel vaccinations and other preparations are strongly advised before visiting Comoros, the country has extremely limited local health care resources and extra precautions must be made before making a trip. As mentioned above, the country has no health insurance system, so arrangements should be made before any travel to Comoros. Keep in mind that an emergency evacuation is usually required for any situation requiring serious medical attention, so insurance and other arrangements should be planned in advance accordingly. Furthermore, the archipelago includes several active volcanoes and remains political unstable, with armed coups quite common, so planning for evacuation contingencies is of even greater importance. It cannot be overstated that Pacific Prime recommends that any visitors to the country purchase some form of Comoros medical insurance, or international health insurance, which provides an emergency evacuation benefit.
If Comoros is on your itinerary, Pacific Prime is qualified to help you with any international, travel, or health insurance needs. We have qualified teams worldwide and would be delighted to provide a no-cost consultation at any time on what insurance options are available, whether you are traveling alone, with your family or with a tour group. The policies we offer cover a wide range of medical services including dental, maternity, specialist consultation, transportation, inpatient services and many more. Please contact one of our advisers today for a free health insurance consultation.