Guinea-Bissau Medical Insurance
Hospitals and health care facilities in Guinea-Bissau are located in the capital Bissau. Medical facilities outside Bissau are virtually non existent. Hospitals in Guinea Bissau are unable to cope with traumatic accidents or severe illnesses. Basic emergency care and inpatient health care services are available at the Raoul Follerau Hospital, a public facility in Bissau. The Simão Mendes, also a public facility in Bissau, provides basic health care inpatient services. Immediate cash payment is generally required prior to hospital admission and consultation. Pharmacies in Guinea-Bissau are located in the capital Bissau, including the Pharmacie Moçambique, which supplies basic medications and first aid kits. Healthcare facilities are of higher standard in the neighboring country of Senegal within the city of Dakar, however travel by air is very limited and not available on Sundays.
In the event of a medical emergency, evacuation or repatriation will be required. Any potential hazard in Guinea-Bissau is compounded by the fact that there is little access to quality medical care throughout the country, including the capital Bissau. The country is not only littered with landmines but has the potential for outbreaks of communicable diseases, given the poor level of water and sanitation standards throughout the country. Medical supplies fall short very quickly during outbreaks of cholera, relying on foreign aid for urgent assistance. Expats living in Guinea-Bissau are highly recommended to obtain an international health insurance policy which includes coverage for air transportation services and medical care overseas to ensure access to quality healthcare in case of emergency.
Communicable diseases in Guinea-Bissau include cholera, malaria, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and schistosomiasis, which are all diseases that are highly prevalent in the country. Expats living in Guinea-Bissau should monitor the media for travel warnings and outbreaks of infectious diseases in Guinea-Bissau, particularly during the rainy season from June to November. To prevent the transmission of these communicable diseases, expats are advised to drink bottled water and avoid swimming in areas which may be contaminated by infectious bacteria. Water sterilization can be achieved through boiling water or using chlorine tablets. Sanitation and hygiene methods should be practiced, such as washing hands after toileting and before handling food. Symptoms of cholera, and other bacterial illnesses, typically include diahorrea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Immediate medical attention is vital due to the high risk of rapid dehydration and shock.
International organisations have contributed extensive aid to the rebuilding of Guinea-Bissau's infrastructure and improvement of health and welfare resources. UNICEF have initiated programs to assist in the improvement of health status among rural communities with the aim to combat child morbidity and the high incidence of malaria and cholera. UNICEF have distributed supplies throughout the nation including mosquito nets, medical kits, emergency medications, and multivitamins as well as educational programs to address issues regarding sanitation, water treatment and nutrition. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF-Spain) have provided support to Guinea-Bissau during cholera outbreaks including early detection and education programs through community home visits. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have deployed an epidemiologist to work together with Guinea-Bissau's Ministry of Health (MOH), assisting with the control of outbreaks in the country.
Demining efforts continue throughout Guinea-Bissau, sponsored predominantly by international organizations including UNICEF, Handicap International, Let's Fight Against Mines, National Mine Action Coordination Centre of Guinea Bissau, Lutamos Todos Contra as Minas, and Humanitarian Aid. UNICEF have developed mine-risk education (MRE) manuals which are delivered to community teachers, to deliver the message to the wider population.
Expats should monitor the media for current travel warnings in Guinea-Bissau, relating to violent acts, fighting, and health issues including outbreaks of infectious diseases. Expats and travelers to Guinea-Bissau should avoid public protests as these can turn violent without warning. Political events, such as elections, can also increase the risk of violence.
Emergency protocols and should be made familiar by expats and visitors to Guinea-Bissau in the case of an accident, serious illness or criminal offense. The emergency contact number in Guinea-Bissau 1-1-7 for the police department and 1-1-8 for the fire brigade. It is important to note that land line connections are very poor, as well as mobile phone reception.