Medical assistance in South Africa
Did you know?
The world’s first heart transplant was performed by Professor Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1967.
Medical care in South Africa is easily accessible and available to travellers, but it's a good idea to know the basics of the local healthcare system when you travel to this country.
In the major cities you’ll find excellent infrastructure in the form of private clinics, hospitals and nursing homes; however, the rural areas are not as well provided for.
The South African medical profession has an excellent reputation worldwide, and doctors must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa to practise. If you need to see a doctor in private practice, you will need to make an appointment.
Be sure to take out medical insurance prior to your trip in the event of a medical emergency that may require swift medical attention from private doctors, hospitals or private emergency services.
State-run hospitals do have emergency units, but due to long queues and limitations in terms of staff capacity and facilities, visitors are more likely to be treated in private institutions.
Most hospitals or clinics in South Africa will expect payment up front for walk-in appointments or full details of your medical cover before treating you. This is standard practice for private facilities throughout the country.
Pharmacies are readily available throughout the country, also in chain stores like Clicks and Dischem. If you need specific prescription medication, be sure to bring along a script from your own physician. Also be aware that certain medication may have a different name to the one you use back home.
The range of medical professionals is vast and in the urban centres you should find a specialist should you need one.