South African healthcare

South Africa is often regarded as boasting one of the healthiest climates in the world with its people enjoying a healthy lifestyle and having access to plenty of fresh air as well as fruits. Unfortunately large numbers of the South African population suffer from a number of health concerns. HIV-AIDS is still a major health concern as are smoking-related illnesses and TB. Surprisingly the life expectancy for the average South African is only 46 whereas for white South Africans that figure is comparable to Europeans and North Americans.

South African hospitals

Healthcare in the country is a mixture of First world and third world healthcare facilities rural areas tend to only have basic facilities whilst some privately funded urban facilities are cutting-edge and can rival many Western facilities.

Public hospitals tend to be underfunded and inefficient whereas as usual private care is often extremely good and as good as care found in the US, UK or Australia. Public hospitals and clinics in South Africa are usually reasonably well equipped and staffed; but are often very overcrowded with patients, and you need to wait for a long time to be seen (by staff who are usually overworked and sometimes indifferent). You also often have to pay for treatment.

If you are treated at a state hospital in South Africa and are a non-resident, you will have to pay as South Africa has no reciprocal health agreements with other countries. Even citizens and residents often have to pay, the amount depending on your salary and how many dependants you have (hospitals have rating scales to calculate the amount to charge you).

As with all foreign country make sure you have extensive health insurance cover before arriving. It will save you a lot of stress and money if the worst were to happen.

Crime and safety

If you read the newspapers then there’s a good bet you have read some horror stories regarding crime in South Africa, and those stories may put you off moving there. Despite the countries reputation for crime South Africa is similar to most countries in that it depends where you go. Since the 2010 world cup the country has seen an increase in carjacking and armed robberies. It pays to know of the most dangerous regions and avoid them where possible. If your careful then crime shouldn’t be a problem.