Lesotho Health Insurance
Those moving or traveling to Lesotho will undoubtedly have many questions regarding how the Lesotho healthcare system works, as well as whether private health insurance in Lesotho is necessary. This guide provides information about Lesotho, it’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.
The Kingdom of Lesotho is an inland country that is entirely surrounded by South Africa, and Maseru as a capital city. Lesotho is the only nation that entirely lies above 1,400 meters in elevation. Lesotho has an economy based on water sold to South Africa, farming, and exported diamonds. About half of Lesotho's population earns a living through livestock or crop cultivation. Lesotho’s mainly known for the breathtaking vistas of the highlands and mountain peaks.
The administration of the country’s healthcare services is performed by the Health Service Areas (HSA). The country is broken into a number of Health Service Areas; each with a centralized referral hospital, responsible for the maintenance and operation of village health centers and clinics that are manned by nurses and nurse practitioners. There are over 5,000 volunteer community healthcare workers located in villages across Lesotho. Healthcare centers and clinics offer immunization services, family planning consultation, and pre and postnatal care, along with primary medical services. There are three district hospitals situated in Mokhotlong, Berea, and Qacha’s Nek.
In 1996, Maseru Private Hospital was opened in Thetsane where local and South African medical professionals consult and operate. The facilities at the hospital consist of a 24-hour casualty and emergency department and maternity department.
A Flying Doctor Service and Partners In Health, are the sole providers of healthcare to nearly 200,000 people living in rural mountainous areas. Single-engine Cessna planes are specially fitted with stretchers and first aid kits in order to transport patients comfortably. A team of up to six passengers flies to outlining clinics every three weeks. The team consists of a doctor, a public health nurse, a pharmacy technician, and a dentist. The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) supplies the pilots and helps to cover some of the costs.
Lesotho maintains an emergency ambulance service that can be contacted by dialing 121; however, this ambulance service is not always reliable. Before traveling to Lesotho’s remote areas, it is advisable to obtain international health insurance with one of the world’s leading insurance companies that operate in Lesotho to ensure timely and smooth evacuation in case you’ll need it.
Lesotho travel advice
Amongst the various districts in Lesotho, Leribe and Mafeteng have the highest crime rates. However, Maseru’s crime rate is 5 times higher than all other districts. So, watch out for the increase in criminal activity. Poverty and crime rates are closely related. Officially, the poverty and unemployment rate in Lesotho is 27.5%. On the other hand, the U.S. Department of State estimates that the actual rate is likely to be around 40%. There were sightings of unemployed individuals loitering downtown in residential areas and in other areas expatriates frequent.
Here are a few tips on travel safety during your stay in Lesotho.
Visitors in central Maseru should be wary of muggers, and should avoid walking alone in isolated areas or after dark. If driving, travelers should also be very cautious and drive with their windows and doors shut, as there have been cases of armed car-jacking, especially near main border crossings, particularly at night. If you happen to be involved in such an incident, offer no resistance.
Despite Lesotho’s very strict gun-control laws, more and more firearms are being smuggled in from South Africa. Again, be sure to comply with the criminals’ request immediately should you be a victim of armed theft, or other petty crimes. Usually, they are only interested in your possessions.
Driving is one of the biggest risks in Lesotho. Not all drivers have proper training, and many vehicles are not roadworthy. Also, most roads are unpaved and on rocky, mountainous terrain. Be sure to look both ways when crossing the streets. If you are a driver yourself, pay careful attention to the road condition.
If traveling through Johannesburg International Airport, also known as Tambo International Airport, in South Africa, you should be aware that baggage pilferage is a serious issue. Most reported incidents have been by passengers changing airlines or from those traveling on smaller airlines. Preventative steps such as availing of airport plastic wrap services and carrying electronic and other valuables in your carry on luggage are encouraged. Comprehensive travel insurance can help to offset such costs, should something happen to your luggage.
Due to Lesotho’s elevation in certain areas, which can be over 2,500 meters above sea level, there is a risk of suffering from altitude sickness. To avoid illness, acclimatize yourself as you ascend. If you ascend above 3,000 meters then do so at a rate of 300 – 500 meters in sleeping altitude per day and have a rest day every three days.
As with most African countries, Lesotho requires certification of yellow fever vaccination for entry even though there is no reported risk of contracting yellow fever while in the country. If you are considering spending anytime in Lesotho, it is imperative that you consult with a medical healthcare professional before you travel. Possible vaccination against cholera, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, rabies, tetanus, tuberculosis, and typhoid should be discussed during your consultation.
Lesotho health insurance
While Lesotho’s healthcare infrastructure and healthcare system are extensive, medical facilities are considered basic in comparison to western standards. In the event of a serious illness or accident, visitors and resident expatriates in the country are advised to seek medical assistance in Bloemfontein, South Africa, which is 140 kilometers from the capital Maseru. Most doctors and clinics in Lesotho will expect immediate cash payment in exchange for medical services rendered. Due to the low quality of medical services throughout Lesotho, it is highly recommended that all foreign nationals in the country obtain a comprehensive international health insurance policy which contains an emergency evacuation benefit.
Those who wish to stay in Lesotho should either obtain a travel insurance plan or private international health insurance in Lesotho to make sure their medical costs will be covered, also in the case of medical evacuation.
If you would like more information about traveling, or moving to Lesotho and obtaining the best medical insurance policy for the occasion, feel free to contact one of our dedicated advisors today.