Your guide to health insurance in Liberia
Located in the northwestern region of the African continent, the Republic of Liberia is a small country with a population of approximately 2.9 million. The country's 14-year civil war, which ceased in 2003, completely destroyed the infrastructure in Liberia and resulted in widespread corruption and violence.
If you are traveling to Liberia, you will surely have many questions concerning their healthcare system, healthcare for expats, and local health risks. This short overview below provides a practical summary of healthcare and insurance in Liberia, as well as options from health insurance companies for expats living and working there. Read on to learn more, or click the button below to obtain a no-obligation, free quote.
Public and private healthcare systems in Liberia
Following the civil war, Liberia continues to lack road infrastructure, access to water, electricity, and landlines, all of which make it very difficult for the country to stabilize its economic, social, and healthcare standards.
During the civil war, much of the basic civil infrastructure was completely destroyed, forcing thousands of unemployed civilians out of the country, including the healthcare workforce. By the end of the war, Liberia lost 95 percent of its doctors, leaving less than 20 doctors to support the healthcare system. Even now, there is still a large shortage of qualified doctors, healthcare staff, and equipment in Liberia.
Furthermore, the lack of monitoring and failure to enforce regulations also resulted in the recruitment of fraudulent doctors and counterfeit medications. Due to the breach of hospital health and safety codes, many hospitals were closed in Liberia including the Monrovia Hospital in 2004.
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.
Since healthcare services are so scarce in Liberia, in the event of a serious illness or accident, emergency evacuation will be necessary for quality medical care. The costs involved in medical treatment and emergency evacuation is expensive and can exceed USD $50,000. Due to this, expatriates within Liberia are strongly encouraged to obtain an international medical insurance policy that can cover these expenses.
Hospitals and healthcare services in Liberia are confined to the capital Monrovia, with virtually no medical services outside of the city. The main public hospitals in Liberia are the John F. Kennedy Hospital and the Redemption Hospital based in Monrovia. Both facilities provide basic healthcare and non-specialized medical services. Other public hospitals in Liberia include the ELWA Hospital, St. Joseph Catholic Hospital, and the Seven Day Adventist Hospital, all providing basic healthcare services within 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 healthcare services in the near future.
Outbreaks of communicable diseases are common throughout Liberia, particularly during the rainy season, which is typically between 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.
The majority of all healthcare services in Liberia are funded and supported by international and religious organizations. Hospitals of Hope, a Christian global organization, donated USD $1.1 million in medical supplies to the JFK Hospital in Monrovia. The British Red Cross has implemented a community-based health program, which provides education on disease prevention, basic medical treatment, and sanitation practices with the aim to eradicate the high incidence of communicable diseases in the country. Médecins Sans Frontières (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.
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 Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) provides large support to Liberia, including the employment of 1,100 police and fifteen thousand aiderss 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.
Vaccinations are recommended for expats and travelers to Liberia, to protect against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Polio, Hepatitis B, Rabies, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Tetanus-diphtheria. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is mandatory upon entering Liberia.
Although the political situation in Liberia has mostly settled, violence and corruption continue to occur throughout the country, particularly in the capital Monrovia. Protestor-led 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 phone number
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.
How to find the best private health insurance in Liberia
Liberia is still recovering from its long civil war and its healthcare system is still undeveloped. Therefore, should you visit the African country, it’s best to obtain a robust international health insurance plan. These expat health insurance plans allow you the luxury to go to the doctor or hospital of your choice, so that you will always be able to receive the highest standard of care available regardless of where in the world you are and even be repatriated back to your home country for further treatment in an emergency.
No matter what your budget is or what your requirements are, our professional insurance specialists can match you with a plan that best fits you or your group. Our policies can cover a plethora of services with optional benefit packages including outpatient, inpatient, maternity, dental, specialist consultations, and many more. Please contact us today for a free consultation.