Sao Tome and Principe Medical Insurance
Sao Tome and Principe is a country that consists of two islands named Sao Tome and Principe, located off the Western coast of central mainland Africa, situated in the Gulf of Guinea and the to the west of Gabon. Sao Tome and Principe has a total land area of about 1,001 square kilometers. Sao Tome and Principe used to be a colony of Portugal and the country gained its independence in 1975, it is a Portuguese speaking country. The capital city, Sao Tome is the largest city of the country and it is located in the South side of the island of the same name. Sao Tome and Principe is situated on the equator and the climate is generally hot and humid. There is little seasonal or daily variation in temperature; normally it is around 27°C and rarely goes above 32°C. The temperatures in the mountains are cooler, with a daily temperature of about 20°C, and during the nights it cools down significantly. There are primarily two seasons in Sao Tome and Principe, namely rainy season and dry season. The rainy season runs between October and May while the dry season is between June and September.
Sao Tome and Principe is a tropical paradise with palm-fringed beaches, crystal-clear water and scarcely explored jungles. Tourists can dive and snorkel in uncharted waters, hike in jungles with wide biodiversity and explore laid-back fishermen’s village. Moreover, one can enjoy some of the world’s best coffee, fresh fruits, seafood, and delight on gourmet chocolate while in the country.
The healthcare system in Sao Tome and Principe consists of both public and private healthcare sectors. Free healthcare is available to all citizens of the country. The majority of the population lives in rural areas and many are employed in the agricultural sector. The public healthcare system is divided into two levels, namely the district and central level. The district level focuses on primary healthcare services, normally via health centres, while at the central level it focuses on secondary healthcare. Tertiary or specialised healthcare services are very deficient in the country; patients may have to be evacuated to other nearby countries for treatments that local hospitals in Sao Tome and Principe cannot provide.
The public healthcare sector is financed through four sources, namely from Government expenditure, the public health investment plan, expenditure financed by donors and revolving fund replenishment. The total expenditure on health for Sao Tome and Principe is around 9.5% of the country’s GDP. According to the World Health Organisation on ranking of the world's health systems, Sao Tome and Principe ranked 133 out of 190 countries. Although the healthcare services in Sao Tome and Principe have improved a lot throughout the years, the healthcare services are still characterised by inequalities in availability and access. The infrastructure of the healthcare system in the country is poor. There is a shortage of medicine and medical supplies. There is routinely a lack of medical personnel, and medical professionals normally have limited training and sometimes they are unable to deliver basic healthcare services.
Private healthcare is also available in Sao Tome and Principe; however, the costs are quite expensive. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for any healthcare treatments or services rendered. Due to the fact that 54% of the Santomean people are living below the poverty line, only a small group of the population can afford paying for medical services in this private sector. Patients either make out of pocket payments or put in place a medical insurance plan.
All medicines in Sao Tome and Principe are imported. Public and private pharmacies are available in the country. Medicines in the public sector are not free, most of the population are required to pay for their medications, exemptions are applied to a few categories like children under five years’ of age and pregnant women.
In general, medical facilities in Sao Tome and Principe are limited, and the level of care offered is relatively low. There are two hospitals in the country, one on each Island, and other medical facilities include health centres and health posts, which are geographically accessible to the general population. However, in the case of serious illnesses, emergencies and for many medical conditions, patients are required to travel to nearby countries like Gabon, Portugal or South Africa for treatments. In addition, some medicines are not available in the country; travellers are advised to carry properly labelled required medications with them. Given that the healthcare standard of Sao Tome and Principe are not on par with the standard of most western countries, it is highly recommended that foreigners to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance or international medical insurance if you were to stay in Sao Tome and Principe for a longer period of time. Given the fact that many treatments cannot be provided in the hospitals in Sao Tome and Principe, it is advisable to take out an insurance plan which will cover you for medical transportation or evacuation.
Pacific Prime is a one-stop insurance brokerage service provider for you when travelling to Sao Tome and Principe. We offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs, including benefits such as dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many others. We offer a large variety of healthcare plans as well as travellers insurance plans. Contact our professional advisers today to enjoy full insurance protection such as a Health Insurance Plan for yourself and your family.