Namibia Medical Insurance
Public health care is, in principle, widely available to all Namibians; however, in practice the public health sector suffers from long waiting times and general absenteeism among medical personnel.
There remain real issues with respect to accessibility, in particular between rich and poor, and between city and rural dwellers. This issue was recently highlighted when the Department of Health and Social Services acknowledged that 84 percent of the population relies on public healthcare, placing an extraordinary burden on public finances. New initiatives are being developed between the public and private healthcare sector to increase awareness of private Namibia health insurance, and the various options available with regards to alternative medical services. These initiatives will also aim to reach the general workforce, so that they have access to, and can afford, private health care and medical insurance protection. Both Public and Private medical providers within Namibia have publicly committed themselves to successful public-private partnerships in the country’s healthcare sector.
Medical facilities comparable to international standards can be found in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, and in other large towns; however, outside of the larger populated areas the quality of facilities tends to vary. There are state run hospitals in all major towns, and the majority of medical practitioners are educated to international standards. Healthcare centers and mobile clinics operate in smaller towns, villages and rural settlements.
Windhoek boasts two public, and three private hospitals; approximately 80 percent of Namibia’s medical specialists are based in the city. Many doctors, hospitals and private clinics will expect up-front payment in cash, regardless of whether or not you possess health insurance covering Namibia.
A wide range of medicines and drugs can be purchased in Windhoek, and pharmacists strictly adhere to the standards set by the American Food and Drug organization with all imported medication controlled for distribution by the local Drug Control Board. A sparse and widespread population has resulted in considerably more air evacuation than in most other countries. Medical emergency evacuation services extend to all corners of Namibia. They are supported by a well-developed air industry, landing strips and a well-maintained road network. Serious medical problems that cannot be treated in Windhoek require a short air-evacuation to South Africa. The largest percentage of cases requiring emergency evacuation relate to road accidents, mostly on rural gravel roads by non-nationals who are not used to the local driving conditions.
Due to the prevalence of medical evacuations within the country, and the predisposition for foreign nationals to become involved in serious road accidents, Pacific Prime highly advises that all expatriates in Namibia obtain a comprehensive expatriate insurance policy which provides an emergency evacuation benefit.
Visitors to Namibia are advised to seek professional medical advice before traveling, preferably from a doctor specializing in travel medicine. Vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Polio and Rabies are recommended. Cholera outbreaks do occur from time to time and while mains water is purified and safe, visitors should only use boiled or bottled water; ice should be avoided in drinks.
Namibia suffers from three major diseases; HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a major problem in Namibia. Although infection rates are much lower than most of its neighbors in Sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 15% of the population is infected by HIV. The disease has been particularly damaging to the country’s working class, resulting in increasing numbers of orphans requiring state care.
Malaria is prevalent throughout northern half of the country, with the general rule being to take adequate precautions against the disease when traveling to any area north of the capital Windhoek. The issue of malaria appears to be directly connected to the AIDS epidemic. Researchers have shown that in Namibia the risk of contracting malaria is 14.5 percent greater if a person is also infected with HIV. The risk of death from malaria is also raised by approximately 50 per cent with a simultaneous HIV infection. With HIV/Aids infection rates so high in Namibia, coupled with a growing malaria problem, a large proportion of the government health budget is set aside for HIV/AIDS and malaria treatment.
Holiday makers and short stay visitors are advised to carry photographic identification at all times. A photocopy of the biometric page and Namibian immigration stamps are sufficient. Violent street crime such as muggings and robberies are on the increase. Attacks have taken place in busy city centre areas, even during daytime, and visitors are advised to exercise caution at all times. Common sense precautionary measures such as being alert to surroundings and avoiding isolated areas can ensure an incident free visit.
Hiring a taxi is a cheap and convenient method of transport in Windhoek and other large cities. However, several unlicensed taxi drivers have been involved in assaults and thefts, if taxis are to be used only use taxis that display the NABTA logo (Namibia Bus and Taxi Association). Road conditions in Windhoek and large cities and towns are generally of a high standard. Rural roads are usually made from gravel, and although these roads are well maintained, controlling a vehicle on gravel is far more difficult than on concrete. Visitors should be aware that motor vehicle accidents in Namibia are one of the primary causes of injury and death, and motorists are urged to drive with care.
Emergency measures should be enacted in the case of an accident or illness or those who are the victim of a criminal offense. Individuals requiring emergency services should dial 211-111. The International SOS (ISOS) operate a 24 hour emergency center in Windhoek, including a fleet of air ambulances and dedicated road response vehicles.