Healthcare in Zambia
The general state of healthcare in Zambia is poor. Although there are adequate private health facilities in Lusaka, the public health system remains heavily underfunded, and many expats requiring serious medical attention will find themselves evacuated to another country, such as South Africa, where there are better medical facilities. It’s essential that expats have a comprehensive health insurance policy before moving to Zambia.
Public healthcare in Zambia
Zambia offers universal healthcare to all its citizens. By Western standards this healthcare is very basic and Zambia’s public healthcare system is chronically underfunded. Many Zambian doctors leave the country or work only for the private health system, meaning that public health is subject to a skills drain.
Private healthcare in Zambia
There are good private hospitals in Zambia’s larger cities, particularly Lusaka. These cater not only to foreigners but also to affluent Zambians. Expats living in mining communities and compounds owned by their organisation are likely to find company-sponsored clinics on-site that are able to cater for their basic medical needs. However, most expats are evacuated to South Africa or elsewhere in the case of long-term serious medical care being required.
Pharmacies in Zambia
Although pharmacies are available in major towns and cities, they are not always well stocked and may not carry many of the usual drugs that expats may need. Pharmacies are generally open from Monday to Saturday, with very few operating on Sundays and none on a 24/7 basis. In the case of an emergency, expats should try pharmacies attached to hospitals or clinics.
Health insurance in Zambia
It's essential that expats either ensure that any medical insurance cover from outside Zambia covers living in the country, or that medical insurance is taken out quickly on arrival. It is important that this medical plan is comprehensive, including cover for medical evacuations. This should be an essential part of contract negotiations when moving to Zambia.
Health hazards in Zambia
Zambia is in the malaria belt and also a TB zone, so a doctor should be consulted before departure about appropriate medication. An essential purchase in Zambia is a mosquito net. These nets cover the bed at night and have a significant effect in reducing mosquito bites. Cholera and dysentery are also common, particularly during the rainy season. Zambia also has a very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
The water in Zambian cities is drinkable, but best avoided. Bottled water is widely available and the best option for new arrivals.
Emergency services in Zambia
Emergency services are inadequate, especially outside of Lusaka. In the case of an emergency expats can dial 991.