Lesotho Medical Insurance
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is responsible for the coordination of the Lesotho health care system. The Ministry works closely with various private and non-government agencies, and donor countries, to maintain this system. The Department of Pharmaceuticals Services procures drugs and medicines, while The National Drug Services Organization is responsible for dispensing these drugs through out the health system.
The administration of the country’s health care services is performed by the Health Service Areas (HSA). The country is broken into a number of Health Service Areas each with a centralised referral hospital, responsible for the maintenance and operation of village health centres and clinics that are manned by nurses and nurse practitioners. There are over 5000 volunteer community health care workers located in villages across Lesotho. Health care centres and clinics offer immunization services, family planning consultation, and ante and post natal care, along with primary medical services. There are three district hospitals situated in Mukhontlong, Berea and Qacha’s Nek. In 1996 Maseru Private Hospital was opened in Thetsane where local medical professionals consult and operate. The hospital is supported by staff from Bloemfontein, South Africa. Facilities at the hospital consist of a 24 hour casualty and emergency department and maternity department.
A Flying Doctor Service provides emergency services, and aids the implementation of health care programmes to remote 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 supplies the pilots. Due to Lesotho’s close ties with Ireland, an Irish doctor employed by the Ministry of Health of Ireland assists in this program. Lesotho maintains an emergency ambulance service which can be contacted by dialling 121; however, this ambulance service is unreliable.
While Lesotho’s healthcare infrastructure and health care 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 kilometres 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.
As of 2011 the birth rate was estimated at 26.93 births per 1,000 people, while the infant mortality rate was 55.04 deaths per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy for males is 51.76 years old, and 51.76 for females. The adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is estimated at 23.6 percent in 2009, ranking it the third worst affected country in the world. HIV/AIDS accounted for 14,000 deaths that same year. Lesotho is also ranked the fourth worst affect country in the world in terms of Tuberculosis infection, with over 1,000 people a year contracting first-line drug resistant strains. Various organisations, such as the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative and PIH, have enacted programs to test all citizens over the age of 12 for HIV.
Lesotho’s crime rate is alarmingly high. There have been numerous incidents of car-jacking, robberies, sexual assaults, burglaries and even murders against foreigners and native citizens. These incidents have taken place at all times of the day. Unauthorized police checkpoints manned by armed gangs are in operation on Lesotho’s highways. Lesotho’s high crime rate can be attributed to a number of factors such as the country’s high unemployment rate, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the resulting social effects, and the return of redundant miners from South Africa. When driving you are advised to keep all doors locked and windows closed, avoid driving after dark and during early daylight hours in rural areas; if confronted by armed gangs, offer no resistance. One should also avoid walking in Maseru after dark and in some areas during daylight hours. The Lesotho Mounted Police Service patrols the streets, but due to lack of resources they are few in numbers and an immediate response time is unlikely.
If travelling 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 travelling 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.
As with most African country 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 health care professional before you travel. This is to ensure that all routine vaccinations are up-to-date and that you can be advised on any health risks presently affecting the country. Possible vaccination against Cholera, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Tetanus, Tuberculosis and Typhoid should be discussed during your consultation.
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 acclimatise yourself as you ascend. If you ascent 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.
Pacific Prime can offer a wealth of professional expertise and services. Our tailor made medical insurance policies suit every budget and health care need, no matter what state of life you may be at. For more Lesotho health insurance information, or to receive a free quote, please contact us today.