Seychelles Medical Insurance
The Republic of Seychelles consists of a group of 115 islands, hidden within the Indian Ocean, 1500 kilometers from the east coast of Africa. The country has a population of around 85,000 people, and collectively the islands cover a small area of 457 square kilometers. The Seychelles islands are scattered over a region of 1.4 million square kilometres, consisting of an inner group and an outer group of islands. The inner islands of Seychelles include Mahe, Praslin, Silhouette, La Digue Cousin, Cousine, Curieuse, Denis Island, Birds Island, Arid Island, and Fregate. The outer island group consist of smaller groups of islands known as the Amiraten, Farquar and the Aldebra group. The most populous islands are Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette.
Only 30 of Seychelles islands are inhabited by people. Approximately 90 percent of the country's population live on Mahe, the largest island in the country which is only 28 kilometres long and 8 kilometers wide. Victoria is the capital city of Seychelles, located on Mahe, and is known as the smallest capital in the world with a population of only 30,000 people. Tourism is the predominant industry in Seychelles, as well as agriculture and fishing.
The Seychelles Government provides free access to primary healthcare for all its citizens, and has adequate services in child and maternity health care. The country has met almost all of its 8 Millennium Development Goals, as proposed by the United Nations to be achieved by 2015. Access to education and health, safe drinking water and sanitation is considered to be adequate within the country. Challenges do however exist in providing specialty health care services and controlling infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease. The Seychelles Government relies heavily on expat doctors to provide the majority of its healthcare services. The turnover rate is high among expat doctors in Seychelles, causing instability of service delivery. Lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, present a serious burden in Seychelles and have relatively high incidence rates compared to international levels. Statistics indicate that cardiovascular diseases account for 40 percent of annual deaths in Seychelles. Specialized health care services including complex heart surgery, oncology, and dentistry; are very limited in Seychelles and patients, who can afford it, are required to travel to Kenya or South Africa for appropriate treatment.
Health care facilities in Seychelles are relatively limited for those who reside or visit the outlaying islands. Specialized services are only available within the populous island of Mahe. There are three remaining hospitals in Seychelles which are located on Praslin, La Digue, and Silhouette island, they are the Anne Hospital, Logan Hospital and the Silhouette Hospital respectively. These hospitals provide emergency stabilizing and non-specialized health care services.
There are two government hospitals on Mahe, the Victoria Hospital, located in the capital city Victoria; and a smaller facility called the Anse Royale Hospital. Both facilities provide emergency services, paediatrics, gynecology, oncology, ophthalmology, and other specialty services. The Victoria Hospital has the only decompression chamber within Seychelles, used for diving related disorders. There are also some small private medical clinics located on Mahe which provide primary health care services. Holiday resorts located on remote islands generally employ a Doctor that can provide basic health care and organize emergency evacuation to Mahe if specialized care is required.
Language barriers are generally not common within Seychelles' hospitals. Doctors are usually foreigners and speak proficient levels of English. Hospitals and Doctors will expect payment in cash and will generally not accept credit cards. Foreign patients are are required to organize reimbursement of their medical bills with their insurance provider. As such it is strongly recommended that all expatriates and travelers within the country obtain a comprehensive Seychelles health insurance policy.
The remoteness of the outlaying islands, and their distance from adequate health care facilities, place a serious threat to expats if they develop a serious health condition or are involved in a traumatic accident. Expats living in Seychelles commonly participate in new experiences the islands have to offer such as deep sea diving, sailing, wind surfing, water skiing, surfing, paragliding and deep sea fishing and hiking trails. Safety precautions and emergency protocols should be adopted if medical assistance is required, particularly when visiting remote islands.
In the event of a serious illness of accident, emergency evacuation will be required to Mahe, or a hospital overseas such as Kenya or South Africa. Public health care facilities in Africa are generally not considered on par with international standards; therefore private facilities, which provide state-of-the-art services, are strongly recommended. Like other countries worldwide, private health care in Kenya and South Africa is very expensive. Air evacuation is highly expensive and can amount to over US$50,000, depending on the severity of the health condition. An international health care plan is therefore highly recommended for expats living in Seychelles, which includes emergency evacuation and repatriation services within Seychelles as well as overseas to South Africa and Kenya.
Outbreaks of the bacterial disease, Leptospirosis, continues to be reported throughout the Republic of Seychelles. Leptospirosis is usually transmitted through contact with water, wet soil, or vegetation that has been contaminated by the urine of animals infected with the bacteria leptospira. Symptoms range from fever, vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases can lead to hemorrhage and death. Immediate medical attention is required to treat the condition and prevent fatality.
There are reports of mosquito-borne viruses including chikungunya and yellow fever throughout Seychelles. Travelers diarrhea is also very common, particularly among foreign visitors. Expats need to exercise caution by wearing insect repellent and wearing long sleeved clothing to assist in protection against mosquito bites. Expats should wash raw vegetables and fruit before eating. Children are susceptible to rapid dehydration, therefore medical attention should be sought immediately to prevent potential deterioration.
The Seychelles Government requires all individuals to present a validated International Certificate of Vaccination if they have traveled to a country where yellow fever is prevalent. No other vaccination is mandatory, however protection against typhoid, measles, and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) is recommended for individuals visiting Seychelles.
A national ambulance, police and fire brigade service is available on Mahe, Paslin and La Digue island and can be contacted by dialing 9-9-9.
Other outlaying islands will typically have an emergency contact number for doctors on call.