Although the country has seen much improvement in its healthcare system in recent years, as one of the poorest countries in the world, it follows that the standard of healthcare in Tanzania remains low. The country faces chronic shortages of medical staff, and facilities are underfunded and lacking adequate medical technology.
Medical facilities are insufficient outside major urban areas and any serious medical emergency will likely require air evacuation to a nearby country such as Kenya or South Africa.
That said, English is widely spoken in Tanzania and doctors will generally be able to speak the language. Most doctors in the country will expect an upfront payment in cash.
Public healthcare in Tanzania
Both private and public facilities are available in the major cities, with the best hospitals found in Dar es Salaam and Arusha. While public healthcare in Tanzania is available free of charge, it generally falls well below the standards expected by most expats. As such, most expats in Tanzania choose to use private healthcare, while the local population are limited to mainly the public sector as a result of the country's poverty levels.
Private healthcare in Tanzania
Private healthcare is usually the preferred option for expats living in Tanzania. While these hospitals are in much better condition than public hospitals, they are still below the standards of Western countries.
The doctors in private hospitals generally speak English and can treat most ailments. In cases of emergency or for serious procedures, however, expats tend to look to healthcare options outside the country. Expats should ensure that they have comprehensive international healthcare coverage to cover the exorbitant costs of private healthcare in Tanzania.
Health insurance in Tanzania
Expats typically use private medical facilities in Tanzania and will require private health insurance. Although private health insurance coverage is not widespread among the local population, it is essential for expats to have comprehensive coverage. Expats should ensure that they choose a plan that covers them for different kinds of treatments in Tanzania and abroad, as well as emergency air evacuation.
Medicines and pharmacies in Tanzania
Pharmacies are readily available in the main urban centres, but medicines may be in short supply. Expats should consider bringing all prescription and chronic medication with them. These should be carried in their original labelled containers and accompanied by a prescription or doctor’s note.
Health hazards in Tanzania
Malaria is endemic throughout most of Tanzania and expats should discuss possible prophylaxis options with their doctor before travelling. Preventative measures include wearing long, light-coloured clothing, regular application of insect repellent and sleeping under a mosquito net.
Water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid are some of the most common travel-related ailments in Tanzania, and tap water is generally not safe to drink. It is advisable that expats stick to drinking bottled water wherever possible. Other potential health hazards in Tanzania, include the Marburg virus, measles, Ebola as well as sleeping sickness.
Vaccinations for Tanzania
Expats should ensure that all routine vaccinations are up-to-date. Before leaving for Tanzania should ensure that they are covered for the following:
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
The above list is merely a guide and expats should consult a medical practitioner about the health risks in Tanzania before they depart.
Emergency services in Tanzania
In the case of an emergency, expats can dial 112 or 114, but emergency services are extremely limited, and some medical emergencies may require air evacuation.