Healthcare in Angola

In recent years, Angola has grown in popularity as a destination for expats in search of adventure and generous salary packages. However, the country bears the reputation of having poor public healthcare services. Angola’s healthcare system comprises two sectors: public and private. While treatment at state hospitals and clinics comes at no cost, the standards are low, and the majority of the population still has extremely limited access to medical care.

The country’s best hospitals are found in the capital city of Luanda. However, even those are usually not up to the standards that many expats would be accustomed to. Most medical staff in Angola speak Portuguese and, because of the high number of Cuban medical professionals in the country, expats may also be able to find Spanish-speaking doctors, but English speakers are few.

Before venturing to another country, make sure you have a health insurance plan you can rely on. Our international health insurance plans offer comprehensive health cover for when you are in your home country and abroad.

While it is free, public healthcare in Angola is severely underfunded and understaffed. It can also be difficult to access, which is why most expats and even locals opt for private healthcare instead.

Regardless of affordability, treatment for expats at state institutions is discouraged. The doctors, nurses and caregivers tend to be insufficiently trained and have to make do with the often-outdated medical technology and infrastructure available in Angola.

Expats in Angola, as well as local citizens who can afford it, generally choose to invest in private health insurance which allows them access to private healthcare and usually covers emergency evacuation to better healthcare facilities in nearby South Africa. Employers will normally provide expats with international health insurance.

While some private clinics are better than state facilities, they are still generally considered inadequate, which is why expats with the means often choose to travel to destinations such as Namibia, Cuba, Spain and Portugal for more complicated procedures and treatments. Some companies may even have basic medical facilities on site, allowing people to be stabilised or treated before potentially being evacuated to better equipped institutions.

Pharmacies, called farmácias, are mostly found in Luanda and are often understocked. Those in hospitals and clinics are usually open 24 hours a day.

Expats are advised to take note of the generic names for any medication they might be taking, as brand names tend to vary from country to country. Due to medication shortages in Angola, it is also advisable to travel with a supply of any chronic medication that expats might need during their stay in the country. Proof of prescription should be carried as it may be required for inspection. 

There are a few health hazards in Angola, including the threat of HIV/AIDS, malaria and neonatal disorders. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, expats in Angola also run the risk of contracting typhoid, tuberculosis, cholera and diarrhoeal diseases. It is vital that vaccinations are taken for these diseases before arrival in the country. Furthermore, expats should ensure that all their regular as well as Covid-19 vaccinations are up to date before moving to Angola.

It is also essential that expats ensure that they have an adequate supply of anti-malarial tablets to cover them for the duration of their stay in the country. Preventative measures against bug bites, such as the use of mosquito nets and insect repellent, are also recommended. As rabies is also a concern in Angola, it is best to avoid contact with animals in public spaces.

Dialling 112 will put expats through to medical-emergency dispatchers. Unfortunately, ambulance services in Angola often don’t reach the more remote and rural areas and operate almost exclusively in Luanda. Expats are advised to prepare their own transport and have the number of their nearest local hospital on hand in case of emergencies.