Healthcare Information for Expatriates in Kenya
Kenya is a beautiful country that continues to be one of the best places to experience Africa, especially wildlife. The country’s deep-rooted cultural traditions further make it a popular destination to explore. Private healthcare in Kenya is robust but can be a bit expensive. Expats can procure a good health insurance plan before leaving their home country so they can access high-quality medical care while in Kenya. This CDC link will provide you vital health information if you are planning for expatriate life in Kenya.
Overview of Healthcare in Kenya
Kenya’s healthcare system is managed by the National Health Insurance Fund and is broadly divided into two classes of establishments — hospitals and dispensaries. Many of the hospitals based in Nairobi and Mombasa follow international care standards, while the rest are still in the process of developing. Medical dispensaries form another class of the healthcare system and are mostly run by registered nurses under the supervision of a nursing officer.
Kenya’s patient-doctor ratio is very low, which is why many public facilities are usually understaffed and have long queues lined up throughout the day. Moreover, modern medical equipment is also limited. Private facilities in Kenya are better equipped and have English-speaking staff. Expats can benefit private facilities by securing international private insurance of their own.
How the Kenyan Healthcare System Works for Expats
Healthcare in Kenya is accessible to everyone, including expats, global citizens and tourists. The quality of healthcare for expats in Kenya varies, depending on location, hospital, and type of ailment. The standard of public healthcare in Kenya is generally not up to western standards. Private hospitals are costlier, but they also offer a much better quality of medical care. Even then, expats must check the available specialty area of each hospital before availing treatment. Blood transfusions are risky in the country because of inadequate testing and HIV is still a common risk in Kenya.
Public Healthcare in Kenya
Civil servants in Kenya are obligated to join the country’s national healthcare plan. Expats living in Kenya are also eligible to avail health benefits provided under the country’s healthcare program. However, those who seek expat healthcare in places like Nairobi must be knowledgeable about the Kenyan health system beforehand.
People suffering from simple illnesses such as initial treatment of malaria, cold and flu, or some skin condition first need to approach government-run dispensaries. If the nurses can’t handle the problem, they will refer the patient to a health center run by a clinical officer. The role of the clinical officer will be to provide preventive care and vaccinations. If the case is too complicated, the officer may refer the patient to a government hospital.
Private Healthcare in Kenya
Most of the expats in Kenya can trust most private hospitals in Nairobi. These private facilities have highly qualified medical staff and the latest medical equipment, so they can easily diagnose and treat a patient. Their charges are much higher than those in public hospitals, but expats will find even that amount to be surprisingly affordable. Expats are not bound to purchase a private health insurance plan, but they are strongly recommended to do so. Expats in Kenya should check the medical network that is offered by their global health insurance provider to see which facilities can provide direct reimbursement. There are quite a few hospitals that serve expatriates quite well in Kenya.
Medicines and Pharmacies in Kenya
You can easily locate a pharmacy (known locally as chemists) in every town and city of Kenya. Many of the generic medications are inexpensive and are readily available over the counter. It is still recommended that expats buy a good insurance plan that can cover all medication expenses.
Emergency Services in Kenya
Emergency medical services in cities like Nairobi and Mombasa have a decent standard. In other cities, the standard of care is not up to the mark. In rural areas, emergency medical services are either very poor or do not exist at all.
Private hospitals in Kenya have their small fleet of ambulances to help those who can afford their services. Yet, it’s even faster to reach the nearest hospital using a private vehicle, as ambulances in Kenya may already have their hands full. Expats can dial 999 to call for emergency services in Kenya.
Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in Kenya
Despite being a developing country, Kenya has an association with some of the leading insurance companies in the world. Expats who are covered under these plans can avail of treatment at leading private hospitals in Kenya. They can also obtain medical treatment when in another country depending on the coverage area chosen. Additionally, if the plan permits, expats can also seek treatment in some other country at no additional fee at all. Make sure that if you get global healthcare in Kenya, you obtain the evacuation option.
Expats can also avail healthcare benefits in Kenya by buying one of the comprehensive insurance plans from Allianz International or IMG. For American citizens in Kenya, we recommend the GoeBlue global health plan. To make a better choice for medical coverage in Kenya, expats can compare the available plans, their pricing, benefits, coverage areas, and more, before making their final decision.