Healthcare in South Africa



South Africa’s health care system hinges on both the public and private sectors delivering quality services to all citizens, expatriates, migrants and tourists in need. The public sector offers free primary care to its citizens and expatriates.

Since apartheid toppled in 1994, South Africa has been striving to reach its potential and has developed its health care sector accordingly to become more equitable and accessible to everyone. The nation's Department of Health has blueprinted what is to be one of the best health care systems in the world. However, in this country, health care could be a matter of knowing which providers to choose or skip. And expats have to start by knowing the differences between what each can and cannot offer before making a final choice.

Healthcare Coverage

As authorities step up efforts to provide the utmost quality of health care to all residents, 40% of the national budget is allotted to fulfilling the responsibility of providing health care to some 80% of its 47 million-strong population, the remaining 20% of which is in the hands of the private health sector. Public health care in South Africa has previously been found lacking, so most expatriates prefer extra protection from the private sector for their medical care. Today, in South Africa, the health insurance industry is booming, which means there are many companies to choose from. It is vital to find an insurer who provides the most fitting health care plan, one that meets the needs of expats.

Visiting a Doctor

Finding a doctor in South Africa will not be a problem, as expats may simply ask friends and family for referrals. Those who want to be sure can call the Health Professions Council of South Africa at 012-338 9300 or 6680 where all doctors in South Africa are registered. Medical doctors who have been planning expatriation with their families may find South Africa to be a good destination for professionals in this field are most welcome. In rural areas, there has been a marked shortage of physicians, and the government has been expending considerable effort trying to fill this gap. This has opened doors for many foreign doctors who have decided to settle and practice in the country.

There is no special system for visiting a doctor but most locals would first see a general practitioner (GP) before coming to a specialist. Those who are on public health insurance can expect up to 40% co-payment from the government but more often, for small, basic services, patients will have to pay cash up front. On the other hand, international health insurance in South Africa provides more options which more expats seem to be warm to.

Hospitals in South Africa

Over a decade now, a thousand clinics have been erected or renewed and children under six, along with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, are now entitled to free health care. More than 400 provincial and tertiary hospitals have already been constructed with more state-of-the-art medical infrastructure scheduled to be built in the coming years. However, expats should keep in mind that healthcare in South Africa is a cross between first and third world quality. Most public institutions offer substandard services while the private ones are at par with those of major destinations around the globe. Below are some of the top hospitals and clinics that expats will find in South Africa:

76 Maude Street, Corner West Street, Sandton 2196

Tel: 0860 638 2273

Oxford Manor, 21 Chaplin Road, Illovo 2196

Tel: 011 219 9000

Nurses Home, Ground floor, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7700

Tel: +27 (0) 21 686 7860

Unit 6 & 8 Melomed Office Park, Punters Way, Kenilworth, 7780

Tel: 021 699 0950

3 Eglin Road, Sunninghill 2191

Tel: +27 (0)10 205 6600


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