Senegal is often included in the list for travelers looking to tour the great continent of Africa. Located on the west side of the world’s second-largest continent, Senegal houses stunning beaches, fascinating traditions, and beautiful resorts.
However, like many countries in this area, the healthcare system in Senegal can leave much to be desired, and we highly recommend you to get the appropriate health insurance plan if you are planning to travel to this country. Here, we’ll take you through the key points you’ll need to know about Senegal’s healthcare system, the health risks while visiting the country, and how you can find the best health insurance before traveling there.
Senegal’s healthcare system
The nation’s health care system operates on three levels - Health Posts, District Health Centres, and Regional Hospitals. In addition to these services, the country has two university hospitals and a small number of private health clinics.
Challenges to Senegal’s healthcare system
To put it frankly, the healthcare services in Senegal are of extremely low quality, primarily due to the substandard infrastructure of health facilities. Medical facilities in the country are unable to cover the entire population and frequently suffer from severe overcrowding.
For instance, there are:
- An estimated one hospital per 545,800 inhabitants
- One health center per 175,000 inhabitants
- One health post per 11,500 inhabitants
- One medical doctor per 17,000 people
- One birth assistant per 4,600 people.
All this data is pointing to significant gaps in the provision of Senegalese medical services.
What do these challenges mean for expats?
While the severe shortage of qualified medical staff in Senegal is concerning for expatriates and travelers planning on visiting the country, it is important to note that even where there is a doctor or nurse, in many cases these individuals will not have received training on par with western standards. Many of the medical professionals in the country receive only limited courses on basic health and medical practices.
It gets worse in rural areas
In addition to this, there is a dearth of medical staff in rural areas, which further compounds the issue of supply. Many doctors and medical staff in Senegal simply cannot be motivated to work in rural areas of the country. This means there is a high chance that there wouldn’t be adequate healthcare services available if you fall ill or get injured in the countryside while traveling in Senegal.
Access to rural health services is further hampered by poor road infrastructure, extreme distances, and environmental conditions. Many of the country’s roads are sand or mud tracks that are difficult to navigate in normal weather conditions. Poor conditions are exacerbated during the rainy season. As a result, only 32 percent of rural Senegalese households have access to rural medical services.
Healthcare challenges for expats in Dakar
Hospitals and clinics in the capital city of Dakar are equipped to treat major and minor injuries and illnesses. However, due to the extremely low quality of the medical infrastructure in Senegal compiled with the frequent crowding at local hospitals, expats and travelers who suffer from a severe illness or accident while in the country may have to be transported overseas to continue treatment.
As such, it is highly advised that any foreign national entering Senegal purchase a comprehensive international health insurance policy that provides an emergency evacuation benefit before they arrive in the country.
Senegal health risks
Before you travel to Senegal, you should consult with a healthcare professional to discuss the various health risks and concerns associated with your trip.
The Center for Disease and Control Prevention recommends any travelers to Senegal to get the following vaccinations before visiting the country:
- Routine childhood vaccinations should be up-to-date.
- Hepatitis A and B
- Yellow fever
- Meningitis (Meningococcal disease)
Malaria, in particular, is a risk in all areas of the country. Malaria is contracted from the bite of the Anopheles mosquitoes that normally feed during the hours of dusk till dawn. Malaria prevention tablets are available but do not guarantee 100 percent protection. Commonsense preventable measures, such as wearing insect repellent, wearing long-sleeves and trousers and sleeping in air-conditioned rooms, and using bed-nets are recommended.
How Pacific Prime can help
If you are considering spending any time in Senegal, feel free to contact Pacific Prime to discuss, free of charge, a range of Senegal health insurance services available to you or your group. As a global health insurance broker who specializes in expat health insurance, Pacific Prime can offer a wealth of professional expertise and services. Our tailor-made policies to suit every budget and health care need no matter what stage of life you may be at. To get a no-obligation, free price comparison quote, visit our website today!