Due to its geographic location, the Republic of Paraguay is often referred to as Corazón de América (Heart of America). The landlocked South American nation became independent from Spain in 1811, and its climate ranges from subtropical to temperate. This guide takes you through the key things you need to consider before arriving in Paraguay. These are the key facts you need to keep in mind as you plan your trip to the Heart of America.
Paraguay’s healthcare system
Despite Paraguay’s relative wealth and modernity, access to healthcare resources in remote rural areas can be substandard. Paraguay’s healthcare system is sorely understaffed compared to its regional neighbors, with 11.1 doctors per 10,000 population, which is less than half of the regional norm. There is a serious shortage of nurses and midwives - only 17.9 per 10,000 population, about one-third of the regional average.
For this reason, precautions must be made before taking a trip. Since Paraguay has very limited local private health insurance, arrangements must be made before travel. Emergency evacuation may be necessary for situations needing serious medical attention. It is recommended that all travelers to the country purchase a Paraguay health insurance plan which includes emergency evacuation coverage.
Getting medical treatment in Paraguay
In the event that you are sick, or suffer a serious accident while in Paraguay, the local medical facilities should be able to provide adequate levels of emergency care. However, expatriates who require more serious medical treatment are advised to only use the nation’s private healthcare facilities, which can be more expensive than the national averages. Public healthcare is available in Paraguay for national citizens, but travelers will typically be asked to pay for their medical treatment before seeing a physician.
Of all private healthcare spending, 87.1 percent comes from out of pocket expenditure. Private health insurance coverage has made up an increasing proportion of healthcare spending since 2008, but the system is still quite limited.
Paraguay is a developing country that faces various public health challenges that are no longer common in developed countries in the Western hemisphere. The following are the most common diseases in Paraguay, according to the WHO.
Rates of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) prevalence are below the global average, but the transmission of HIV is expected to increase with migration from Argentina and Brazil, and TB is believed to be underreported, particularly in poor urban areas.
Malaria is prevalent in the Paraguayan departments of Alto Paraná, Caaguazú, and Canendiyú, and a serious epidemic occurred in 1999 - 2000. Proper prophylactic measures include insect repellent with DEET, mosquito bed nets, and wearing long-sleeved clothing.
Antimalarial drugs are recommended, preferably primaquine, which has been most effective in the region. However, please note that users should be tested for allergic reactions beforehand. Alternatives include atovaquone, proguanil, chloroquine, doxycycline, and mefloquine.
Other insect-borne diseases
Other insect-borne diseases seen in the region include dengue, filariasis, onchocerciasis, and Chagas disease. Viral encephalitis, Oroya fever, and louse-borne typhus can also be found in a few remote regions of Paraguay. Also, parasitic infections may be found in freshwater, so limiting swimming to chlorinated pools is highly recommended.
Gastrointestinal diseases obtained from food and water are the most common afflictions for travelers and Paraguay is no exception. Precautions should include frequent hand washing and sanitation, drinking only bottled water, and avoiding undercooked food and dairy products. Anti-diarrhoeal medicine should be carried out to treat less serious cases.
If you are planning to visit South America and Paraguay, Pacific Prime is available to assist with your travel health insurance needs. Our experienced teams worldwide will provide a free consultation anytime 24 hours per day, with options for solo travelers, families, and tour groups. Policies can cover a range of medical services, including dental, maternity, specialist consultation, transportation, inpatient services, and more. Don’t hesitate to contact a Pacific Prime advisor for further health insurance or Paraguay medical insurance details.
The following vaccinations are recommended for travelers going to Paraguay:
- Routine vaccines (such as polio vaccine and flu shots)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
Health insurance in Paraguay
There are always health-related concerns when traveling to another country. These health risks are exacerbated when you travel to a developing country with limited healthcare facilities and a myriad of diseases no longer present in your home country. The limited healthcare facilities may mean that you’ll need an emergency medical evacuation to a nearby country for medical treatment, which comes with heavy medical bills.
To make sure that you’re not making full out-of-pocket payments for these medical costs in Paraguay, all expatriates traveling to Paraguay are highly advised to purchase an international health insurance policy that provides an emergency evacuation benefit, as the costs associated with repatriation and evacuation from the area can be considerable.
For more information about Paraguay health insurance and locally compliant international health insurance plans that we can offer there, or to receive a free quote, please contact one of our expert advisers today.