Your guide to Gabon’s healthcare system and private health insurance
Whether you are a traveler or an expat planning to work or stay in Gabon, this exclusive comprehensive guide from Pacific Prime will touch on the important things you need to know about Gabon, the country’s healthcare system, and touch on the importance of securing an international health insurance plan.
Read on to learn more, or obtain a no-obligation, free quote below.
Expats and travelers to the country will be pleased to know that Gabon is a living wonder, full of history, biodiversity, and culture.
Gabon, a country lying on the west coast of Central Africa, is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and the Republic of the Congo to the east and south. On the west side of the country is the Atlantic ocean which stretches along Gabon’s coastline.
Most of the country is covered by a dense tropical rainforest that is home to enigmatic wildlife that will enthrall nature enthusiasts. Include this with the superb white-beaches, rushing natural rivers, and open savannahs and you will be taken off your feet at the delight of this Eden-like country.
The climate is very tropical since the location of the country sits on the equator. It is always hot and humid. The terrain along the coast is narrow and further inland, the area becomes hilly. The savannah landscape is located in the east and north.
Gabon’s natural resources
The country is rich in natural resources ranging from petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, and iron ore.
Gabon’s economic overview
Gabon is an upper-middle-income country and the fifth-largest oil producer in Africa. It has had strong economic growth for a few decades, driven by its production of oil and manganese. The oil sector has accounted for 80% of exports, or the equivalent of roughly 45 to 50% of GDP, and 60% of fiscal revenue on average.
Gabon’s population demographic
The country covers an area of nearly 270,000 square kilometers (100,000 sq mi) and has a population of over 2 million. The population is spread in pockets throughout the country, but most people are located in the capital of Gabon, Libreville, which is located along the Atlantic coast in the northwest. Libreville, and Port Gentil—the economic capital of the country—are home to 59% of the population. Libreville has an estimated 824,000 people living in the capital alone.
Since the country’s independence from France in 1960, the country has flourished and has one of the highest urbanization rates in Africa. As of 2019, 89.7% of the total population live in urban sprawls. Life expectancy at birth is 68 years with men averaging 66.3 years and women at 69.6 years.
The official language of Gabon is French, while 32% of the people speak the Fang language. For expats and travelers needing medical treatment, it is advised to attend a private hospital with English-speaking medical professionals. Your health insurance company can help provide you with a list of private hospitals that you are able to attend for medical treatment.
Healthcare system in Gabon
Gabon’s medical facilities are generally considered one of the best in West Africa, with 90% of the population having access to health care.
Location of Gabon’s facilities
All of Gabon’s hospitals can be found in Libreville, Port Gentil, Franceville and the surrounding areas. In rural areas, there are numerous health medical centers, mother and child health centers, and primary health. However, most centers have become outdated in recent years, and have limited medical equipment and drugs on hand for treatment. Most clinics demand payment before services are administered, which can delay treatment.
Health sectors in Gabon
The Gabonese Public Health System is comprised of five different departments or health sectors:
- The Civilian Public sector under the Public Health and Hygiene Ministry
- The Public Military sector under the Ministry of Defence
- The Nation Health Social Security Funding and Private Insurance system
- The Private Health sector
- The Traditional Health sector
Gabon’s public health sector
The Gabon public health sector system provides services, information, and monitoring of emerging diseases to the vast majority of the country. However, there is greater access to treatment, and preventative services, technical expertise and resources in urban areas than in the rural regions of the country.
The Albert Schweitzer Hospital
The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, a research center for tropical diseases, is located in Lambaréné on the banks of the Ogooue River in western Gabon. The hospital provides primary care for over 6,000 in-patients and between 22,000 to 35,000 out-patients every year from all around Gabon. These figures are likely to increase in the near future. The Albert Schweitzer Hospital maintains modern medical facilities, such as two operating rooms where surgeons perform over 2,200 operations annually, a dental clinic and inpatient wards for surgical, adult medicine, pediatric, and obstetrical patients.
The Bongolo hospital
The Bongolo hospital situated in the southern town of Lebamba and serves over 40,000 patients a year. Established in 1977, the hospital offers medical services in the area of surgery, adult medicine, maternity, pediatrics, and has an outpatient department.
Health risks and recommendations in Gabon
Just like many African countries, Gabon experiences many health issues, including HIV/AIDS, yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, and much more.
There are currently an estimated 53,000 people living with HIV/AIDS within the country. Adult prevalence is estimated at 3.8% which ranks it the 14th worst affected country in the world. Approximately 1,200 people die from HIV/Aids-related complications each year. Transmission of HIV/Aids predominantly occurs by means of heterosexual intercourse, needle sharing, or mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). There's no cure for HIV/AIDS, but many different drugs are available to control the virus. Such treatment is called antiretroviral therapy, or ART.
Yellow fever is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito which feeds during daylight hours and is abundant in urban areas. Yellow fever vaccination is a requirement for entry to Gabon as it is at epidemic levels throughout the country. The vaccine is to be administered ten days before arrival and at ten-year intervals following departure.
Dengue fever is also contracted from the Aedes mosquitoes bite. These are no preventative medications or vaccines available for dengue fever. However, there are preventative measures, such as wearing insect repellent, long pants, and sleeves, sleeping in air-conditioned rooms, and using bed-nets.
The anopheles mosquito bite poses the threat of transmitting malaria. Preventative measures such as wearing insect repellent, long pants, and sleeves, sleeping in air-conditioned rooms, and using bed-nets are recommended. Antimalarial drugs and other prescription drugs that are available in your home country may not be widely available in Gabon.
Health advice and recommendations
It is recommended that before you visit Gabon, you should consult your healthcare professional, preferably one experienced in travel medicine, at least six weeks before departure.
This is to ensure you receive the best advice in regards to vaccinations, medications, and precautionary information for the country.
Routine vaccinations such as measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/ tetanus (DPT), poliovirus vaccine, and Hepatitis should be up-to-date.
Include medical emergency evacuation to your health insurance plan
Treatment may not be available in certain areas of Gabon, which makes it risky if you require emergency treatment. Expats and long term travelers are encouraged to include medical emergency evacuation when securing an international health insurance policy to cover the cost of repatriation or evacuation by air or ground ambulance.
How to secure the best private health insurance in Gabon
It can be a challenging task to find the best private health insurance policy in Gabon. One of the best decisions expats or travelers can make is to consult an experienced insurance broker, like Pacific Prime.
With almost two decades of experience matching expats with the most optimal health insurance solutions on the market, Pacific Prime leverages its close partnerships with all major insurers and has an extensive portfolio of all the best plans. In addition to having the best health insurance policies, Pacific Prime also offers unparalleled service and outstanding claims support.
Contact Pacific Prime today to secure the best insurance solution with the help of consultants that provide impartial advice and support.