Madagascar Medical Insurance
Madagascar's healthcare system comprises western medicine and traditional medicine practices. Western medicine is available through public and private facilities. The private sector is funded mainly through the Malagasy Lutheran Church, as well as international bodies. Traditional medicine is available throughout the country and practiced largely in rural provinces. Traditional medicine in Madagascar uses plant-based products for medicinal purposes; for example, the Raraha plant is used for its anesthetic qualities.
Hospitals are confined to the capital city Antananarivo. Other urban areas of Madagascar have hospitals, with rural areas largely lacking any presence of medical facilities. A large number of doctors in Madagascar are trained internationally within Europe or Cuba. Although Doctors are adequately skilled, lack of medical resources prevent them from delivering quality health care services in both public and private hospitals. In the event of a serious illness or accident, emergency evacuation to a hospital overseas such as La Reunion Island or South Africa will be required to receive the adequate level of medical care. Air transportation, as well as medical services are highly expensive in these locations. As such, expats are highly recommended to obtain an international health insurance policy, that includes emergency evacuation and repatriation and worldwide medical coverage.
Public hospitals in Madagascar are largely underfunded, resulting in shortages of modern medical equipment, medical supplies and health care staff. Regional hospitals are located in urban areas of Madagascar, offering emergency, general surgery, maternity and specialized services. District hospitals provide primary health care, diagnostic and non specialized service. Basic Health Centres (BHC) provide basic health prevention services and prenatal care. Basic Health Centres are located throughout Madagascar, including smaller provinces in the country.
The largest public hospitals in Madagascar are the Befeletnana Hospital and the Fort Dauphin Hospital, both located in the capital Antananarivo. Other large regional hospitals include the Centre Hospitalier Regional in Toliara, Hopitaly Loterana Manambara in Tolanaro, and the Hopitaly Loterana Antanimalandy in Mahajanga.
The best hospitals and health care services in Madagascar are provided by the private sector. With increased funding, modern medical equipment and health care staff are available and hygiene standards are significantly higher in Madagascar private healthcare facilities. Private, well equipped clinics in Madagascar include the Clinique des Soeurs Franciscaines, Espace Medical, and the Insitut Pasteur, all located in Antananarivo. Private healthcare is relatively expensive in Madagascar, as are facilities in South Africa and La Reunion. In cases of serious emergency, patients may have to be transported to nearby facilities in South Africa or La Reunion, which can be very expensive. As such, expats are strongly advised to obtain an international health insurance policy to ensure ease of assess to medical services in Madagascar especially a policy that would include cover for medical evacuation and transportation.
Communicable diseases are highly prevalent in Madagascar, including cholera, malaria, dengue, chikungunya fever, pneumonia, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), leprosy, rift valley fever, meningitis, and syphilis. HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis is prevalent in Madagascar, but is relatively low in comparison to countries within the African continent. Immediate medical attention is required to treat these potentially life threatening illnesses.
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection transmitted via contaminated water sources. It is important to drink bottled water, or sterilize water through boiling or using chlorine tablets. Expats should avoid swimming within areas of Madagascar due to the high risk of contaminated water within most areas of the country.
Vector borne diseases including malaria, dengue, and chikungunya fever are prevalent in Madagascar and with occasional outbreaks occurring from time to time. An outbreak of chikungunya fever was reported within the southeastern region of Madagascar in 2010, resulting in 111 reported cases to date. Vector borne diseases are transmitted via infected mosquitoes. Symptoms typically range from high fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, and severe joint pain. Expats should exercise preventative measures by wearing mosquito repellent, long sleeved clothing, and use mosquito nets during the night. Anti-malarial medication, such as doxycycline, is also highly recommended to assist in prevention.
Madagascar experiences frequent hurricanes and periods of high rainfall, consequently resulting in floods. During heavy rain, typically between the months of November to April, the incidence of communicable diseases are significantly increased. High wind and rainfall have left thousands homeless during Madagascar’s major events of hurricanes in 2000 and 2004. Driving conditions are generally unsafe in Madagascar due to poorly marked roads; during heavy rain the large number of unsealed roads become unusable.
To call an ambulance dial 22-200-40; police department dial 22-227-35 or 22-357-09 or fire service dial 1-8. It is important to note the emergency response is usually delayed by traffic.