Your guide to health insurance in Guinea
Starting a new chapter in Guinea? Officially known as the Republic of Guinea, this crescent-shaped coastal country is located in West Africa. Guinea shares land borders with six other countries: Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Mali to the north, and Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire to the south. A whopping twenty-four different ethnic groups comprise the approximately 10 million local population within which the Fula, Mandinka and Susu tribes are the most prominent.
Like many West African countries, a rich musical tradition with storytelling, song and dance is an important element of everyday life in Guinea. Here, the climate is tropical with two distinct seasons, a dry season (November to March) and a wet season (April to October).
In this Pacific Prime article, we'll give you a snapshot of the Guinean healthcare system, as well as your health insurance options here.
Overview of the healthcare system in Guinea
Guinea has been officially classified by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as the least developed country in the world. In 1987, Guinea adopted the Bamako Initiative which outlined protocols designed to increase the availability of medicines and healthcare services to Sub-Saharan Africans. While progress has been made, in particular, an increase in accessibility to healthcare through community-based programs; both public and private medical facilities in Guinea are badly equipped and fall considerably short of international standards.
Accessibility to safe drinking water and clean sanitation, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas, remains a real problem and is the main cause of disease, particularly among children aged 5 years and under.
The UNAIDS/WHO Working Group 2010 Report also estimates that around 70,000 adults aged 15 or over were living with HIV/AIDS; with the approximate percentage of the adult population with infection is estimated at around 1.3 percent.
Public healthcare system in Guinea
The health sector funding is derived from four main sources: government, local authorities, the public and donors. However, the percentage of spending allocated towards health from the national budget is approximately 3.5 percent per annum, considerably less than the 10 percent recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
State funding primarily covers the salaries of medical staff on the public payroll, and vaccine purchase and distribution. The remaining state funds are invested in health centers and hospitals. This funding makes up approximately 80 percent of the operating expenses of the annual health budget. Local authorities (communes, prefectures, regions) bear a minute share of the cost burden, approximately 0.4 percent, which is limited to paying the salaries of contractually employed staff. The public pays approximately 14.8 percent of overall funding, which equates to part of the cost required to maintain the nation’s health infrastructure and part of their operating costs. Donors provide 5.3 percent, specifically to finance infrastructure or equipment-related expenditures, and provide basic and advanced training.
Private healthcare system in Guinea
Although private medical facilities do provide a better range of treatment options than their public counterparts, a wide range of basic medicines are in short supply and treatment is often unreliable.
It is advisable that all expats in Guinea obtain a comprehensive international health insurance policy which provides an emergency evacuation benefit. Evacuation overseas will often be the best treatment option in the event that you’re suffering from a serious illness or accident here. Hospitals in Guinea will usually only be able to supply basic emergency care. Any in-depth or complicated medical treatments are often not available in the country.
Access to emergency medical services in Guinea
There is no emergency rescue service in Guinea and no contact numbers are available for the main hospitals, including those in the capital Conakry. Some private medical facilities such as the Clinique Pasteur in Conakry can be contacted on (+224) 621 350 101. Private clinics will request payment in cash regardless of whether or not you hold a Guinea medical insurance policy.
Health risks in Guinea
The following diseases are widespread in Guinea, and there is a very high degree of risk associated with each:
- Bacterial and protozoal diarrhea
- Hepatitis A
- Typhoid fever
- Yellow fever
- Lassa fever
Note that Cholera is especially prevalent during the rainy season, and can sometimes remain in the country’s water sources for up to eight months after the first rains.
Tips for travelers
Below are several tips to keep in mind when you’re traveling in Guinea.
- Only drink boiled or bottled water. Ice in drinks should also be avoided.
- Seek immediate medical assistance if you suffer from diarrhea or similar stomach-related illnesses during a visit to Guinea.
- Carry photographic identification at all times.
- Exercise caution at all times, particularly when near military camps and the border areas, as the level of security remains uncertain.
- Keep in mind that crime is an everyday occurrence in both rural and city areas of Guinea. Naturally, this includes the capital city of Conakry. Criminal acts by individuals dressed in military uniform are on the rise with tourists and travelers regularly targeted by thieves. Most nonviolent crime involves acts of pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, particularly around areas where large numbers of people congregate, such as the airport, hotels, restaurants, markets and other tourist attractions. Armed robbery and assault are common violent crimes.
- Corruption is a major problem which has infiltrated every sector of public life. Police and military officials have been known to make direct and indirect requests for bribes.
- Exchanging foreign currency in public places or using unlicensed money changers is illegal and can result in arrest.
Protect yourself with international health insurance
In Guinea, access to public and private health insurance cover is not widely available. Therefore, you are strongly advised to purchase comprehensive international health insurance before traveling. Visitors should seek medical advice and ensure they receive appropriate information in regards to mandatory vaccinations.
As an insurance broker with over 20 years of experience in the industry, Pacific Prime offers a wide spectrum of health insurance policies. From family insurance to travel insurance, we are more than happy to find the perfect plans that balance your budget with your needs.