Republic of the Congo Medical Insurance
The Republic of the Congo is a state in on the Central African continent. It is also know as Congo-Brazzaville, Little Congo or the Congo. It is bordered by the Central African Republic and Cameroon to the north, Gabon to the west, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the south and west, the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda and the Gulf of Guinea to the south west. The official language is French but there are an estimated sixty two languages spoken in the country. The capital of the Republic of Congo is Brazzaville. Due to civil unrest in 1997, and again between 1998 and 1999, there has been extensive damage to the areas of the capital and large areas of the southern part of the country.
The Republic of Congo has an estimated population of approximately 4.2 million people, with 48,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo; 70 percent of whom live in urban areas such as Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire or one of the several towns and villages that line the rail way that connects the two cities. In 2006 the total funding provided by government to the health sector was 2.1 percent of GDP, a mere US$31 per capita. The country is desperately poor with gross national income per capita standing at US$2,420. This low level of spending severely inhibits the delivery of national healthcare services within the Republic of Congo.
The average life expectancy at birth within the country is 53 years old for males, and 55 year old for females. The probability of dying before a child reaches five years old is 126 of 1,000 live births. Medical facilities are extremely limited with roughly 20 physicians per 100,000 persons. If you should seek medical treatment within the Republic of Congo, doctors and clinics will expect immediate payment for services. Those wishing to visit the Republic of the Congo should invest in comprehensive international medical insurance policy which covers evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation, if necessary.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Republic of Congo is highest among 15 to 49 year olds, accounting for some 5,100 deaths in 2009. There are approximately 77,000 people living with the disease in the country, accounting for 3.4 percent of the population, ranking it as the forty seventh worst affected country in the world. HIV/AIDS is spread by contact with contaminated blood, mother-to-child transmission and sexual intercourse.
In 2010 there was an outbreak of Paralytic poliomyelitis (polio) in the country, with 12 new cases being confirmed by World Health Organisation. The WHO investigated 476 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), an acute form of polio, mainly in Pont de Noir and Brazzaville city, specifically in the Bounenza and Niari subdivisionsm which caused 179 deaths. If you have not received a booster shot of the polio vaccine in the last ten years you are advised to do so before travelling to the Republic of Congo. Other routine vaccinations such as measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/ tetanus (DPT), and Hepatitis should also be up-to-date prior to arrival in the country. Due to low levels of water sanitation the risk of water borne disease such as Cholera and Typhoid fever is extremely high. Travellers are advised to only drink boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
Typhoid fever, caused by bacterium Salmonella enterica is an acute, is life-threatening febrile illness. Infection occurs from contact with human faeces by means of contaminated water or food. A vaccine is widely available in most western nations, but the provision of Typhoid treatments within the Republic of Congo can be scarce; contact your doctor for more information prior to departure for the country.
In 2008, there was an outbreak of Cholera in the Loudima district in the south of the country. In 2007, 25 people died in Brazzaville from the disease. There have also been reports of cases in Pointe Noire and Kouilou. Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting which can often lead to rapid dehydration. If you suffer from diarrhoea after a stay in one of the affected areas you should seek medical advice.
A Yellow fever vaccination is a requirement for entry to the Republic of the Congo as the disease remains a threat in all areas of the country. The vaccine is to be administrated ten days before arrival, and at ten year intervals following the first treatment. Yellow fever is transmitted by the bite of the aedes mosquito which feeds during daylight hours and are abundant throughout the Congo’s urban areas. Dengue fever is also contracted from the aedes mosquitoes bite. There are no preventative medications or vaccines available for dengue fever.
The anopheles mosquito bite poses the threat of transmitting malaria. This type of mosquito feeds predominantly during dusk to dawn. Preventative measure such as wearing insect repellent, long pants and sleeves, sleeping in air-conditioned rooms and using bed-nets are recommended. Anti-malaria drugs and other prescription drugs that are available in your home country are not likely to be available in the Republic of the Congo. You are advised to bring all medications with you, and seek immediate medical attention if you develop a fever of 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) or above more then one week after being in a malaria risk area, or within a year of returning to your home nation.
Rabies is a viral disease which causes inflammation of the brain and can be contracted from contact with wild or domestic animals. Rabies is fatal unless post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment is sought within ten days of the infection. Treatment may not be available in certain areas of the Republic of the Congo, therefore repatriation or transportation of the victim is critical. For those planning on spending time in rural areas vaccinations prior to arrival should be considered, as well as comprehensive Congo medical insurance to cover the cost of repatriation or evacuation by air ambulance.
Schistosomiasis, a parasitic flatworm infection of the intestine or urinary system, is caused by one of several species of the Schistosoma. Infection occurs when the schistosoma larvae, released from infected freshwater snails, penetrate the skin while wading, swimming, bathing or washing clothes in fresh water streams or lakes. There is no vaccine or medication available to prevent schistosmiasis. Those who have been exposed should seek medical attention.
Hepatitis A, a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver poses a high risk to travellers in the Republic of the Congo. Infection occurs by ingesting contaminated food or water or by means of direct contact with an infected person. Hepatitis B, also a viral disease that affects the liver causing inflammation, is widely present throughout the country. Other effects of Hep B are vomiting, jaundice and in some cases, death. Hepatitis B is transmitted by bodily fluid or blood.
In 2005, there was an outbreak of the human form of the Ebola virus with the WHO warning of another likely to occur in the future in the North of the Republic of Congo. The Ebola virus is transmitted by bodily fluids or conjunctiva exposure. The Ebolavirus causes Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and in some cases, depending on the strain, may have a mortality rate of up to 90 percent. ‘Bush meat’ should be avoided due to the high possibility of taint from the Ebola virus.
There is a low threat of terrorist attacks in the Republic of the Congo, however should one take place, areas frequented by expatriates’ and foreign travellers and all public places are at risk. The reported incidences of street crime are low in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire; those crimes which have been reported took place near the ports and outside popular restaurants.
There is a risk of rebel activity and armed bandits in the Pool region, targeting road vehicles and trains. In order to travel by road in the Pool region a special permit is required from the Congolese army. Armed robberies have been reported on boats in the Likouala region on the Ubangi River.
If you are a victim of crime while in the republic of Congo you can call the police on 242 06 665-4804, however resources are limited and you may be waiting fourth five minutes or longer for a response. You should also notify your country’s embassy or consulate in the event of an emergency situation. You are advised to leave valuable items at home as there is little likelihood of recourse in the event that they are stolen. There are limited emergency services in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire and virtually none in the rest of the country.
It is illegal to photograph government buildings, military installations, train stations, ports and airports. It is best to ask permission before taking a photo.
Road conditions in the Republic of the Congo are poor and deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season from November to May. The road linking Brazzaville to Point Noire is, for the most part, unpaved and becomes impassable during the rainy season. Travel off the main roads requires the use of a four-wheel drive. The US Embassy in Brazzaville recommends that you avoid the use of taxis or any form of public transportation in the Republic of the Congo. There is a general disregard for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. The Driving style is aggressive and is hazardous due to high speed.
Due to the low standards of healthcare within the Republic of Congo, Pacific Prime has been unable to confidently identify any centres of medical excellence within the country. In the event that you experience a serious illness or accident during your time in the country, evacuation overseas will be necessary to receive quality medical treatment. Local hospitals and medical facilities are severely understaffed and will be unable to provide treatment options on par with western standards. All travellers or foreign workers within the Republic of Congo are advised to purchase a comprehensive global health insurance plan with an emergency evacuation benefit prior to their arrival in the country.
If you are thinking of travelling or moving to the Republic of the Congo then call Pacific Prime today to discuss, free of charge, the range of medical services available to you for the duration of you stay. Our polices are tailor made to suit all budgets and medical needs, no matter what stage of life you may be at. For more information, or to receive a free Congo Health Insurance quote, please contact us today.