DR Congo Medical Insurance
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is a country located in Central Africa. With a large area of 2.3 million square kilometers, it is the third largest country on the African continent. The DR Congo has a large population of 71 million, with the most populous city being the capital, Kinshasa. Other populated cities include Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, and Kisangani. After DR Congo gained independence in 1960, the country had an economically promising future; rich in minerals and resources. However, the country faced challenges driven by political and social instability. DR Congo was largely involved in Africa's World War (1998 to 2003), which displaced millions of civilians and caused widespread disease and poverty.
Despite signing a peace treaty to commemorate the end of war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to endure events of violence and corruption; deemed today as a humanitarian crisis. Rebel forces, who fight for political power, control many areas of the country; forcing millions of civilians to flee from their homes. All areas of DR Congo, particularly the eastern regions of the country, are severely affected by violence and fighting. Expats should not travel outside the capital Kinshasa due to the high risk of violence, particularly aimed at women.
International aid provides the Democratic Republic of Congo with a hopeful future, particularly the United Nations (UN). Peacekeeping missions are implemented through the MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), which aim to protect and rehabilitate those affected.
Medical services are extremely limited outside of the capital city of Kinshasa and are virtually non existent within rural areas of the country. Approximately 70 percent of DR Congo's population has inadequate access to health care resources. Health care services are provided mainly by the public sector, with a small number of private facilities available. Adequate health care, deemed comparable to western medicine standards, can be received at the Centre Prive d'Urgence (CPU) in Kinshasa. The CPU is a french owned private facility, staffed by internationally trained medical staff providing specialized care and emergency stabilizing services. Other private facilities include the Monkole Medical Centre, also located in Kinshasa. Public health care in DR Congo is very basic with shortages in medical equipment and medical supplies. The Kinshasa Medical Center, a public hospital located in Kinshasa, offers basic emergency healthcare services.
Emergency evacuation will be required in the event of a serious accident or medical illness particularly if you are located outside the capital Kinshasa where specialized medical care is not available. Air transportation to a hospital in South Africa, where state-of-the-art hospitals are available, may be required. The costs involved in covering private health care, as well as air transportation, are highly expensive. Expats are strongly recommended to obtain an international health insurance policy which includes emergency evacuation and repatriation, as well as medical coverage within the Democratic Republic of Congo and overseas.
Communicable diseases, intestinal parasites, and vector borne disease are endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. HIV/AIDS is highly prevalent in the country. There are frequent outbreaks of cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, plague, and polio reported throughout the entire country region. Schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease transmitted via contaminated water, is also prevalent in DR Congo. Expats are advised to take necessary precautions to prevent transmission, such as drinking bottled water or sterilizing water through boiling or chlorine tablets. To assist in protection against mosquito bites, expats are advised to wear long sleeved clothing, mosquito repellent, and to use a mosquito net during the night. Malaria prophylaxis medication is also recommended. Immediate medical attention is required to treat these life threatening illnesses.
Due to several factors, DR Congo is vulnerable to outbreaks of communicable diseases. There is little education on the prevention of communicable diseases and the population lacks access to basic health care. The spread of communicable diseases are influenced by environmental factors such as large movements of displaced communities and periods of high rainfall, which tends to occur between the months of March to June.
Expats living in the Democratic Republic of Congo are recommended vaccinations against Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Meningococcus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, Rabies, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Tetanus-diphtheria. Yellow Fever vaccine is mandatory for all people entering the country.
Expats living in Democratic Republic of Congo are strongly advised to avoid areas that see frequent occurrences of fighting between government and rebel force groups. Eastern, north-eastern and Bass-Congo regions of the country should not be visited due to presence of rebel forces including the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Coalition of Congolese Patriotic Resistance (PARECO), and the Mai-Mai. Violent acts, including kidnapping and sexual violence, occur frequently throughout DR Congo.
Expats driving within the Democratic Republic of Congo should exercise high caution due to poor conditions of roads and the high risk of violent crime. Roads may not be sufficiently sealed and are frequently unusable during the rainy season. Car windows should be kept up and doors locked, particularly when driving in urban areas. If you are asked to show passports or documents at checkpoints, it is advisable to do this through closed windows. Criminals may pose as government and police authorities conducting acts of theft and violence.
Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano, is located in Goma city which is situated on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The volcano erupted in 2002 and blocked transportation routes due to its lava flow, destroyed buildings and left thousands of people homeless. Volcanic ash can also cause respiratory symptoms and result in contamination of water supplies. As such, expats situated in the city of Goma should monitor media and local authorities for emergency evacuation plans.
Emergency protocols should be adopted by expats living in Democratic Republic of Congo during the event of an accident, serious illness or criminal offense.
To call the police department, fire brigade service, or ambulance service dial 2-4-2. However, emergency services and response to calls are very limited in DR Congo.
For more information about Democratic Republic of Congo medical insurance plans, or to receive a free Democratic Republic of Congo Health Insurance Quote, please contact one of our dedicated advisers today.