Those moving or traveling to Kenya will undoubtedly have many questions regarding how their healthcare system works, as well as whether private health insurance in Kenya is necessary. This brief guide provides information about Kenya’s healthcare system, and further outlines the key health insurance options available in the country. Read on to learn more, or click below to obtain a no-obligation, free quote.
Located in East Africa, Kenya is renowned the world over for its incredibly scenic landscapes and vast, natural wildlife reserves. The country borders five countries: Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, and Somalia, which makes it culturally diverse and unique. Kenya’s scenery and magnificent wildlife is a big draw for travelers and even expats with a passion for nature. The country experiences high year-round temperatures, as it lies on the equator.
Healthcare system in Kenya
The Kenyan healthcare system can be divided into three categories: public providers (48%), private non-profit organizations (including faith-based and mission hospitals (8%) as well as local and international NGOs (3%)), and private for-profit health care providers (41%).
Public healthcare in Kenya
Run by the Ministry of Health, the basic government-funded public healthcare system is found across all primary healthcare centers and dispensaries. For patients that require prescribed medication, the government-back pharmaceutical chain KEMSA provides medication and medical supplies to government dispensaries. This is where patients can pick up their medication. All public health centers provide free services for simple ailments, such as the common cold and flu, uncomplicated malaria, minor skin conditions, and more.
Patients that require specialist support for their medication or treatment are typically referred to clinics and national hospitals.
While expats are not limited from using the public healthcare service in Kenya, the standards and experience can be less than what they are accustomed to back at home. Public healthcare facilities tend to be understaffed, poorly equipped, and lacking essential medical supplies. The latest medical devices may not be adequate to serve patients that require treatment. This is especially true in rural settings, where healthcare is less accessible.
Private healthcare in Kenya
Within the last few years, the private healthcare sector has grown substantially to offer high-net-worth locals and expats excellent standards of medical care and treatment. Private clinics and hospitals of varying sizes and levels exist in most major urban centers, including the coastal beach resort areas like Diani and Malindi. The capital, Nairobi, has a high number of private facilities, with fewer options in Mombasa.
Expats in the country typically head to the private AGA Khan University hospital in Nairobi, where healthcare treatment is significantly better and widely respected. As the cost of treatment can be expensive to pay directly out of pocket, expats and travelers are encouraged to secure a comprehensive health insurance plan.
General advice for travelers and expats
Just like many other African countries, climate and geography make living in Kenya quite dangerous as expats and travelers are fully exposed to many health hazards. There is a significant prevalence of diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, such as yellow fever, zika, and malaria. It’s also worth highlighting that the risk of contracting malaria is higher in rural parts of Kenya where stagnant lakes and natural pools are located. For those planning a trip into the wilderness, it is best to consider precautionary methods, such as anti-malarial prophylaxis, repellents, clean bottled water, and sanitary gel.
As the country consists of many levels and plains especially towards the center of the country, altitude sickness could cause travelers and expats to experience breathing difficulties, dizziness, and in the worst case, loss of consciousness. Be sure to let others know of your location if your plans include hiking or exploration of jungles and inaccessible terrains.
Recommended vaccinations and medicines before traveling to Kenya
With reference to the CDC, all expats and travelers should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations before traveling to Kenya. All travelers will require vaccination for measles as well as other routine vaccinations including:
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Flu (influenza)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
Take note: It is also essential that expats moving to Kenya have a yellow fever vaccination and carry the certificate when traveling in and out of the country.
Be sure to visit your local doctor or travel advisor to confirm what you need with them before heading out to Kenya.
Medical evacuation plan
For an expatriate or traveler, it is important to consider evacuation to the nearest emergency facility in Nairobi or neighboring countries, in case of emergencies or for necessary treatment that the private hospitals and medical centers cannot provide. This can be beneficial if you plan on going on an adventurous trip to Kenya and want some peace of mind. Discuss with an international health insurance provider, such as Pacific Prime, about medical evacuation plans to supplement international health insurance.
How to find the best health insurance for expats and travelers
With over two decades of extensive experience gained from supporting expats and travelers across the globe, Pacific Prime can assist with any of your Kenya health insurance needs. By leveraging our close relationships with major international insurers, we can offer you professional advice, as well as a free plan comparison.
No matter what your budget is, or what your needs and requirements are, our professional consultants can match you with a policy that best fits you or your group. Our policies can also cover a wide range of health services, including dental, maternity, specialist consultation, health emergency transportation, inpatient services, and many more.
Worried about paying upfront? There’s no need, as our international health insurance plans can come with direct billing. More benefits like this can be requested by discussing with one of our in-house experts.
Expatriates with family members can also secure international cover for the whole family. For international students or travelers in search of international health insurance or travel insurance, Pacific Prime is the go-to insurance brokerage for the best impartial advice and guidance.
Contact us today for a free consultation!