Your guide to The Gambia’s healthcare system and private health insurance
Whether you are a traveler or an expat planning to work or stay in The Gambia, this exclusive short guide from Pacific Prime will breakdown everything you need to know about the country’s healthcare system and illustrate the importance of securing international private health insurance.
Read on to learn more, or obtain a no-obligation free quote below.
About The Gambia
For any expat or visitors looking for renewed excitement in their traveling lives, The Gambia is a country that has much to offer, ranging from its pristine beaches, vibrant history, and rich culture.
The Gambia is the smallest country on the continent of Africa, but its captivating array of natural beauty and wildlife really belies its small size. The West African country is surrounded by Senegal and connected to the sea, with a magnificent coastline stretching 80km. The stunning backdrop of swaying palms and scenic lagoons make The Gambia an attractive country for visitors, travelers, and expats to experience.
Population and demographic
The Gambia has an estimated population of 2.1 million, with roughly 176 people per square kilometer, making it one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. A few towns are located upriver from the delta, and most people live in rural villages.
The major ethnic groups are similar to those in Senegal and consist of the majority Malinke people, and also include Wolof, Fulani (Fulbe), Diola (Jola), and Soninke people.
The population growth rate and infant mortality rate in The Gambia are among the highest in western Africa. The population is young, with about two-thirds under the age of 30. Life expectancy is comparable to the regional average but lower than that of the world.
Despite the presence of the Gambia River, which runs through the middle of the country, only one-sixth of the land is arable and poor soil quality has led to the predominance of one crop - peanuts.
Health and wellbeing in The Gambia
Since, The Gambia’s independence from the UK in 1965, the overall health conditions in The Gambia is still considered poor.
Inadequate sanitation is a problem for more than half of the population, and about one-third of the people do not have access to safe drinking water.
Communicable (infectious) diseases
Malaria poses the biggest health threat in the country, followed by other parasitic diseases and tuberculosis. The Gambia has a lower prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS than many other African countries, although it appeared to be increasing among younger women during the 2000s. As of 2018, the adult prevalence rate stood at 1.9%.
Healthcare system in the Gambia
The healthcare system is made up of a three-tier structure:
Primary healthcare focuses on villages with relatively low populations. A local health worker and midwife provide out-patient care and health education. They are also responsible for ensuring medical supplies are maintained at adequate levels and assisting mothers to be in giving birth at home.
Secondary healthcare is provided by nineteen health care centers, that are both publicly and privately run. They provide in-patient and out-patient care, pharmaceutical services, and each center has its own resident medical staff.
Tertiary healthcare services are delivered by the four main hospitals: the Medical Research Council (MRC), private clinics and NGO-operated clinics. The main referral hospital is in the capital, Banjul, with the remaining three hospitals located in Bansang, Farafenni, and Bwiam.
Health advice for expats and travelers to The Gambia
For expats and travelers that are concerned about communicable (infectious) diseases in The Gambia, Pacific Prime has put together a list of vaccinations according to the CDC, to be discussed with doctors before traveling to The Gambia:
- BCG (tuberculosis)
- DTaP/Tdap (diphtheria)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- MMR (measles)
- MPSV4/MCV4/MenB (meningitis)
- DTaP/Tdap (pertussis)
- IPV (polio)
- DTaP/Tdap (tetanus)
- Yellow fever
Prevent bug bites
Malaria is widespread, and while there is a risk of contracting this disease at all times, this risk increases during the wet and humid conditions between June to October. Those who experience influenza and fever-type symptoms are urged to seek immediate medical attention.
Tips for preventing bug bites:
- Prescribed antimalarials are recommended unless contraindicated.
- Visitors are strongly advised to use insect repellant and to wear trousers and long sleeve shirts at all times.
- Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
Emergency evacuation plans for The Gambia
The Gambia's medical care falls behind European and Western standards, therefore it is advised that patients go elsewhere for serious medical treatment that is of higher quality.
In this instance, international private health insurance would be especially useful, as it would cover the costly price of medical evacuation in the event of an emergency.
How to secure the best private health insurance in The Gambia
Making plans to travel or relocate to The Gambia can be a daunting experience, and looking for the best private health insurance policy for you and/or your family can be a challenging prospect. Therefore, one of the best decisions all 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 their 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.