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Medical Facilities

Doctor in white coat with stethoscope
Medical facilites are comprehensive in South Africa

Medical facilities in South Africa are, in general, of a high standard, particularly private hospitals and clinics, as well as some of the large state hospitals in urban areas.

Many state-run hospitals with their subsidised facilities suffer from overcrowding and patients generally wait in long queus before being attended to.

Provincially-run emergency services, also under pressure, are now assisted by a number or privately-operated services, which attend to roadside and other emergencies, transporting patients in well-equipped ambulances and emergency vehicles to appropriate hospitals.

Private hospitals and clinics in South Africa are of a high standard and offer specialist treatment by high-skilled specialists. It is advisable to take out comprehensive medical insurance before travelling to South Africa as private health care is expensive.

Despite it's high cost, it is still less expensive than in many countries abroad, and visitors therefore sometimes elect to undergo medical treatment in South Africa. Visiting South Africa for plastic surgery is popular with international visitors. 

The high standard of doctor training in South Africa is well-known. South Africa's urban areas are well supplied with general and specialist practitioners, all registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.  Many medical professionals require payment on consultation, and may offer discounts for immediate settlement.

South African pharmacists are unable to dispense Schedule 3 drugs and up without a prescription, so tourists on chronic medication who expect they'll run out during their stay, should come armed with the necessary doctor's prescription. 

The country has many other medical professionals such as dentists, physiotherapists, psychologists, biokineticists, podiatrists, as well as alternative healing practitioners such as homeopaths, acupuncturists and reflexologists.  Health shops abound, and are often staffed by knowledgeable people offering sound advice.

It should be noted that medical facilities in South Africa's rural areas are less sophisticated often only having facilities to deal with primary health care conditions.