Eritrea has much to offer as a tourist destination, from history and art to outdoor activities, there are plenty of things to do. Although the country is quite small, it is very diverse. Eritrea is a country full of historical, archaeological, and natural sites of interest. However, when it comes to healthcare services in the country, Eritrea’s medical infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired.
In light of this issue, we’ve compiled the most important things you need to know about healthcare and health insurance in Eritrea to help you stay safe while traveling in this beautiful country, going through the country’s healthcare system, common illnesses and vaccinations, and health insurance tips from our experts.
Eritrea’s healthcare system
Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world, where about a third of the population lives below the poverty line. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Eritrea ranked 158 out of 190 countries in the world.
Here are some key WHO data that shed light on the state of Eritrea’s healthcare system:
- The physician to patient ratio stands at 6:100,000
- The nurse and midwife to patient ratio stands at 75:100,000
- Most healthcare providers are located in urban areas, but 80% of the country’s residents live in rural areas
Private doctors and clinics are also available in the country and there is even a private hospital in the capital city. However, the private healthcare sector is relatively small and only affordable by a small group of people due to their expensive fees.
Healthcare facilities in Eritrea include healthcare centers and hospitals. Medical centers provide preliminary medical aid and minor surgical assistance, as well as carrying out diagnostic functions. Except for emergency cases, patients are required to make an appointment with the local doctor in order to be admitted to a hospital.
In general, the infrastructure of the healthcare system in Eritrea is far from meeting the standard of western countries.
- The modern medical facilities are not always available and they are mostly limited to the urban areas in the country.
- Chemists and drugstores are available in major towns. However, the qualifications of chemists are often unknown.
- Basic non-prescription medicines can be found in major cities, though the selection is not large and the supply of medicines is often irregular.
Staying safe in Eritrea
There are many human and non-human threats in Eritrea, and you should take proper precautions when traveling to the country at all times. According to the Canadian government’s official website, the safety and security risks in Eritrea are as follows:
- Border tensions: The border between Eritrea and Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan can pose potential health risks due to the presence of rebel groups and border raids.
- Crime: Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching is targeted towards foreigners.
- Water shortages: The closure of water purification and bottling plants in Eritrea has led to a general drinking problem in the country.
- Landmines: Landmines are present in various remote areas in the country. Be careful when driving off main roads or hiking in the countryside.
- Road safety: Due to the presence of animals on the road, traveling in rural areas after nightfall can pose a major health risk from road accidents.
Staying safe from diseases during your travels in Eritrea is also of the utmost importance. Here are the vaccination recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Routine vaccines
- Hepatitis A and B
- Yellow fever
The center also warns that as of 2020, there is a global measles outbreak. So make sure that you also get measles vaccination when traveling abroad to developing countries like Eritrea.
Eritrea health insurance
For visitors and expatriates who are looking for peace-of-mind knowing that medical costs will be covered in the event of an accident or illness for yourself and your family while traveling to Eritrea, purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance policy or an expat medical insurance plan will be the best solution for you. This will cover any overseas medical costs, but you may need to check that it includes cover for medical evacuation in the event of a serious illness or accident.
Pacific Prime offers a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs, including benefits such as dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many others. We offer a large variety of healthcare plans as well as travelers’ insurance plans. If you have any questions regarding health insurance in Eritrea, feel free to contact our professional advisers or visit our website for a no-obligation, free quote today!