Guinea Medical Insurance
Guinea, officially known as Republic of Guinea, is located in West Africa. Crescent shaped and approximately 246,000 square kilometers in size, Guinea shares land borders with six countries: Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Mali to the north with Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire to the south. The Atlantic Ocean forms its western coastline. Twenty four different ethnic groups comprise the approximate 10 million local population with the Fula, Mandinka and Susu tribes being the most prominent. Like many West African countries, Guinea has a rich musical tradition with story-telling, song and dance an important element of everyday life. The climate of Guinea is tropical with two distinct seasons, a dry season (November to March) and a wet season (April to October).
Following independence from France in 1958, a number of Guinea’s state institutions required urgent rebuilding, none more so than the health sector. As French nationals quickly departed the country, only a small number of medically trained doctors and nurses remained. Widespread corruption and misappropriation of state funds away from core areas resulted in decade’s long neglect of the Guinea healthcare sector. 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 health care services to Sub-Saharan Africans. While progress has been made, in particular increasing accessibility to health care through community based programs; both public and private medical facilities in Guinea are badly equipped and fall considerably short of international standards, 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. Accessibility to safe drinking water and clean sanitation, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas, remain real problems and are the main causes of disease, particularly among children aged 5 years and under.
It is advisable that all expatriates in Guinea obtain a comprehensive international health insurance policy which provides an emergency evacuation benefit. In the event of an expatriate suffering from a serious illness or accident while in the country, evacuation overseas will often be the best treatment option. Hospitals in Guinea will usually only be able to supply basic emergency care, and in-depth medical treatments are often not available in the country. Pacific Prime cannot positively identify a center of medical excellence within Guinea.
Health sector funding is derived from four main sources: government, local authorities, the public and donors. State funding primarily covers the salaries of medical staff on the public payroll, and vaccine purchase and distribution. Remaining state funds are invested in health centers and hospitals. Government 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, provide basic and advanced training, and assist with the purchase of equipment. 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).
In Guinea, access to public and private health insurance cover is not widely available; therefore, non-nationals and expatriates visiting the country are strongly advised to purchase comprehensive international health insurance before traveling. Visitors should seek medical advice and ensure they receive appropriate information with regard to mandatory vaccinations. 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, malaria, yellow fever, schistosomiasis, rabies and Lassa fever. The water borne disease Cholera is prevalent, particularly during the rainy season and can sometimes remain in the country’s water sources for up to eight months after the first rains. Mains water supplies are untreated so only boiled or bottled water should be used. Ice in drinks should also be avoided. Visitors who suffer from diarrhea or similar stomach related illnesses during a visit to Guinea should seek immediate medical assistance. The UNAIDS/WHO Working Group 2010 Report 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.
Short stay visitors are advised to carry photographic identification at all times. In both rural and city areas of Guinea, including the capital Conakry, crime is an everyday occurrence. Criminal acts by individuals dressed in military uniform are on the increase with foreign travelers and expatriates regularly targeted by theives. 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 infected 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.
There are no emergency rescue services in Guinea and there are no contact numbers 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) 30430074. Private clinics will request payment in cash regardless of whether or not you hold a Guinea medical insurance policy. The level of security remains uncertain and visitors are urged to exercise caution at all times, particularly when near military camps and the border areas.
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