Mozambique is a severely underdeveloped country. The country battles with high levels of poverty, which affects the spread of diseases. The public healthcare system in Mozambique is basic and very limited. Expats are not entitled to public healthcare, which forces them to rely on private healthcare facilities. These are also limited, with most found in Maputo. Most expats, as well as wealthier Mozambicans, opt to travel to South Africa for elective procedures.
Public healthcare in Mozambique
Expats moving to Mozambique will find the standard of public healthcare much lower than they may be used to. Frequent staff and supply shortages are a major issue for public hospitals. Most hospitals have excessively long waiting times for even basic care. Some rural areas do not have any public healthcare options. This means locals often need to travel for hours to get to the nearest government clinic.
It is crucial that expats in Mozambique invest in comprehensive international health insurance. These plans will cover the costs of private hospitalisation and possible medical evacuation to South Africa. It is common for those in need of serious medical care to travel to South Africa, as Mozambique lacks adequate resources.
Private healthcare in Mozambique
There are a number of private clinics in Maputo and larger cities in Mozambique. Doctors at these clinics tend to be expats themselves, are well trained, experienced and usually speak English.
The most reputable of the private hospitals is the Maputo Private Hospital. It was one of the first private hospitals in Mozambique and opened in 2012, though other private hospitals have opened since. It is fully equipped to deal with emergencies, and has obstetrics, paediatrics and radiology departments. Expats are advised to do careful research about the healthcare facilities in the area they pan to move to.
Health hazards in Mozambique
Malaria is endemic in Mozambique. It is also the leading cause of death in the country. It is important to avoid mosquito bites by using nets, candles and sprays. However, the safest way to avoid malaria is medication. Anti-malaria pills should be purchased before travelling to Mozambique.
Vaccinations for diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid are advised for those travelling or moving to Mozambique. Bilharzia, a parasitic infection found in fresh water, is also a danger. Tap water in Mozambique is not safe to drink, so bottled or boiled water should be used instead.
Pharmacies and medication
Pharmacies in Mozambique tend to be limited to major cities and the capital. Public pharmacies are known to frequently run out of basic medication. Medications are mostly imported and supply can be unreliable. Expats should therefore always check the expiry dates on packaging. It is a good idea to know the generic name for important medications, as brand names vary from country to country. If possible, expats should try to bring chronic medicine and basic medicine such as paracetamol and malaria tablets from their home country.
Emergency services in Mozambique
Police: 112 or 119
These numbers tend not to be very reliable. Expats should keep the contact details of their nearest hospital on hand for medical emergencies. Private ambulances are available in the capital. Outside Maputo, such services are generally unreliable due to the poor state of the national roads. Air evacuations are often the only option to get to a hospital fast.
►For an overview of the country, see Moving to Mozambique
"I can now recommend Inhambane hospital. As mentioned before, it used to be very basic when I first arrived, but it has helped so many people with serious injuries for a fraction of the price of anywhere else in the world I have travelled."
Read more about South African expat Eddie's experiences in Inhambane, Mozambique.
Are you an expat living in Mozambique?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mozambique. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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