The healthcare on offer in Cape Town is among the best on the African continent – perhaps only rivalled by Johannesburg's medical industry.

The city has a history of health research and innovation. Most notably, this includes the world's first heart transplant performed at Groote Schuur Hospital in 1967. The hospital still functions today.

While the city has maintained its spirit of medical excellence, today private facilities have eclipsed public hospitals in terms of service provision, staffing and the standard of equipment.

Expats will find a multitude of options available in both sectors, but it's recommended that foreigners emulate the local middle and upper classes in utilising Cape Town's private hospitals as well as taking out insurance that covers treatment there.

Public healthcare in Cape Town

Considering that the majority of South Africa's population had little or no access to quality medical attention until the 1990s, the healthcare system in Cape Town has made great strides to improve its standards and serve the communities that need it most.

It follows that the public sector in Cape Town caters largely to poorer communities and the city's working classes, and lacks some of the creature comforts and privacy often associated with hospitals in the US and Europe. Given that they are responsible for serving more than 80 percent of the population, public hospitals are often understaffed and underfunded.

Although some of the best doctors in Cape Town are employed in the public system, the long queues often steer those with the means toward the private sector.

Private healthcare in Cape Town

Most expats moving to Cape Town will use private facilities. Basic consultations with general practitioners are generally affordable but costs can quickly escalate with even the slightest complication.

For this reason, it's highly recommended that expats take out private health insurance, which South Africans commonly refer to as 'medical aid'. An assortment of local service providers offer different schemes; some are completely comprehensive, while others provide basic hospital cover for emergencies.

Private primary facilities, specialist clinics and full hospitals abound in Cape Town and are easily accessed from nearly any location. 

The best way to find a good doctor in Cape Town is via word-of-mouth. It is worth consulting with other expats, local colleagues and friends who've had experiences with healthcare in Cape Town.

Private hospitals in Cape Town

Mediclinic Cape Town
Address: 21 Hof Street, Oranjezicht

Mediclinic Constantiaberg
Address: Burnham Road, Plumstead

Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital
Address: Corner of DF Malan Street and Rua Bartholemeu Dias Plain, Foreshore

Life Kingsbury Hospital
Address: Wilderness Road, Claremont

Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital
Address: Alexandra Road, Pinelands

Expat Health Insurance


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