Liberia Medical Insurance
The Republic of Liberia is a small country located in the northwestern region of the African continent. It has a population of approximately 2.9 million people and a land area of 111.369 square kilometers. The capital city of Liberia is Monrovia, with other populated cities including Ganta, Buchanan, Gbarnga, Kakata and Voinjama. The country's 14 year civil war, which ceased in 2003, completely destroyed infrastructure in Liberia. Approximately 250,000 civilians were killed and around 1.3 million people were displaced. Political instability in Liberia caused a breakdown of law and order, resulting in widespread corruption and violence.
Hospitals and health care services in Liberia are confined to the capital Monrovia, with virtually no medical services outside of the city. The medical care that is available is very basic with shortages of equipment as well as adequately trained doctors and healthcare staff. Following the civil war, Liberia continues to lack road infrastructure, access to water, electricity, and landlines; all which make it very difficult for the country to stabilize its economic, social and health care standards.
Health care status is relatively poor across the country. Communicable diseases are highly prevalent, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, diarrheal and respiratory illnesses. Liberia lacks access to basic health care resources, and education on health prevention and sanitation; together these issues increase the transmission of communicable diseases. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is higher in city areas, compared to rural areas of the country. Child morbidity is very high; around 1 in 4 children die before the age of five. International aid has given Liberia a hopeful future, with mobile health centers visiting communities living in rural areas outside Monrovia.
There is a large shortage of qualified doctors and health care staff in Liberia. During the civil war, much of the basic civil infrastructure was completely destroyed, forcing thousands of unemployed civilians out of the country, including the health care workforce. By the end of the war, Liberia lost 95 percent of their doctors, leaving less than 20 doctors to support the health care system. Lack of monitoring and failure to enforce regulations resulted in the recruitment of fraudulent doctors and counterfeit medications. Fraudulent doctors opened small private clinics. Due to the breach of hospital health and safety codes, many hospitals were closed in Liberia including the Monrovia Hospital in 2004.
Hospitals in Liberia are located in the capital city Monrovia. The main public hospitals in Liberia are the John F. Kennedy Hospital and the Redemption Hospital, based in Monrovia. Both facilities provide basic health care and non specialized medical services. Expats and visitors to Liberia need to be aware that there are no emergency stabilization services in Liberia. Blood screening services are inadequate, as such blood transfusions are not considered safe in Liberia. Other public hospitals in Liberia include the ELWA Hospital, St. Joseph Catholic Hospital and the Seven Day Adventist Hospital, all providing basic health care services within the capital Monrovia.
The Monrovia Memorial Hospital is regarded as the best hospital in Liberia. The private hospital provides diagnostic, radiology, general surgery, inpatient and outpatient services. The hospital reopened in 2008 after the suspension of its license in 2004. With support from private investors, the Monrovia Memorial Hospital is a modern referral center, equipped with adequate medical equipment with plans to expand its medical staff and health care services in the near future.
The majority of all health care services in Liberia are funded and supported by international and religious organizations. Hospitals of Hope, a christian global organization, donated US$1.1 million in medical supplies to the JFK Hospital in Monrovia. The British Red Cross have implemented a community based health program which provides education on disease prevention, basic medical treatment, and sanitation practice with the aim to eradicate the high incidence of communicable diseases in the country. Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), an international medical humanitarian aid organization, has provided large scale support in Liberia since 1990, including the administration of hospitals in Monrovia and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Patients are generally required to pay cash prior to consultation and hospital admission in Liberia. Expatriates are responsible for organizing reimbursement of medical services with their insurance provider. As such, it is highly important that expatriates obtain an international health insurance policy to ensure access to health care services in Liberia.
Liberia continues to receive international support in its recovery following the civil war. China and Libya are partners with Liberia, providing aid in the building of infrastructure, health and educational resources to promote development in the country. The United Nation Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) provides large support to Liberia, including the employment of 1,100 police and fifteen thousand aids to administer peace keeping programs throughout the country. UNMIL also funded the building of 800 kilometers of road infrastructure, providing improved access to healthcare services and other resources in Liberia.
Outbreaks of communicable diseases are common throughout Liberia, particularly during the rainy season, which is typically between the months of May to November. Communicable diseases in Liberia include cholera, typhoid, lassa fever, malaria, hepatitis, polio and tuberculosis. These medical conditions require immediate medical attention and can be fatal if left untreated. Due to the limited medical services in Liberia, a serious medical illness will require emergency evacuation to a hospital overseas.
Healthcare services are very scarce in Liberia. In the event of a serious illness or accident, emergency evacuation to Europe, the United Kingdom or United States will be necessary to receive the adequate level of medical care required. The costs involved for medical treatment and emergency evacuation is expensive and can exceed $US50,000. Due to this, expatriates within Liberia are strongly encouraged to obtain a Liberia international medical insurance policy which can cover these expenses.
Vaccinations are recommended for expats and travelers to Liberia, to assist in the protection against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Polio, Hepatitis B, Rabies, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Tetunas-diptheria. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is mandatory upon entering Liberia.
Although the political situation in Liberia has mostly settled, violence and corruption continues to occur throughout the country, particularly in the capital Monrovia. Protest demonstrations and public riots are frequent as well as criminal acts and sexual violence. Expats should avoid walking alone, particularly during the night. Due to high levels of poverty in Liberia, acts of muggings are common. As such, expats should not carry valuables.
Emergency protocols should be adopted by residents and expats living in Liberia during the event of an accident, serious illness or criminal event. The emergency contact number for Liberia is 9-1-1 or 3-5-5. It is important to note that there is little access to landlines and that cellular phone reception is poor in Liberia.