Private Medical Insurance for Expats Living in Zambia

Zambia may be an adventurous country, with many attractions such as the Zambia River and Victoria falls but it is also a country of extreme poverty, with very poor infrastructure and health care. Zambia’s tourist board records around 60,000 British visitors a year, with expats coming mainly from Britain and South Africa, and are largely based in Lusaka. Expats living in the country may use the health care system, but access, for majority of people is theoretical rather than realisable, due to the lack of facilities and the limited numbers of nurses and doctors, who are generally overworked.

Shortage of doctors

In Zambia, the shortage of trained medical staff is acute and people will sometimes travel hundreds of miles for what can be a very rushed consultation. The UK’s foreign and commonwealth office, has previously described Zambia as being poor, with countryside areas suffering the most when it comes to health care.


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Getting private healthcare

To obtain satisfactory treatment, for any serious medical conditions or tests, expats and wealthy Zambians would usually travel to South Africa, Europe or even North America for treatment while expatriate women tend to prefer to use USA or Europe, for any pregnancy care and delivery. For minor ailments, acceptable hospitals and clinics do exist however, there are very few of them in the cities and virtually none in the countryside areas. The three top hospitals in Zambia, according to the insurance company InterGlobal, are CFB Medical Centre in Lusaka, the Lusaka Trust Hospital and the University Teaching Hospital, which is also located in Lusaka.  Zambia’s embassies or consulates are worth consulting before travelling as they will give you guidance on where the best place for serious medical problems are located within the area you intend visiting, and may also recommend a particular physician. Anything that will requires in-patient treatment would be best resolved by visiting South Africa, which is situated nearby, but this will mean a journey by air or road transport. A commonly used location is Johannesburg. For those with money, primary care provision can reasonably good in hospitals that do have some internationally qualified doctors.

Evacuation cover essential

Patients are usually only transported outside Zambia for serious cases as it is in these areas of serious illness or injury, that the country’s own health care is poor. This makes international medical insurance, with a good evacuation benefits, absolutely essential. Advice given from FCO is that you should ensure that you take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover your visit, which should include cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance.

Medical Insurance Premiums

In Zambia, medical costs have increased and deceitful billing is commonplace. Aviva, a major UK based insurance company who entered the Zambian market in 2009, now declines to cover expats in this country. Other UK based providers are AxaPPP and InterGlobal, who are both very competitive.

VAT on Insurance Policies

An attempt by Zambia to impose VAT on insurance policies was abandoned in 2010, by the then Zambian government. However, InterGlobal thinks that the future could mean that expatriates may have to face another rise in their medical insurance premiums.


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Medication Warnings

In the UK we can receive safe, over the counter drugs but this is not the same in Zambia and the ingredients in any medication needs to be carefully checked. On your arrival in Zambia, you may be questioned by customs about any medication you are importing into the country so it may be easier to leave any non-essential drugs at home. Where medication is essential, you are advised to contact Zambia’s Pharmaceutical Authority, to request advance permission to bring those drugs into the country. This can be done on-line by visiting

Main Health Hazards in Zambia

Malaria, rabies and tuberculosis (TB) are very common in Zambia and outbreaks of measles, mainly affecting the young, have also been the subject of alerts for travellers and it is advisable to keep children away from these areas and to keep them closely monitored. Cholera and dysentery are also common, especially in the rainy season which is during the months of November to April. Only boiled or bottled water should be consumed and ice in drinks should be avoided. Other hygiene rules include ensuring that food is thoroughly cooked and to be aware that any food from street stores may not meet adequate hygiene standards. If you do suddenly suffer an attack from diarrhoea, during your visit to Zambia, you should seek medical attention.

Taking and smuggling drugs is illegal in Zambia and will result to severe punishments being handed down. Having possession of pornography is also illegal and is likely to lead to a jail sentence or deportation. Homosexuality is also illegal and long-term imprisonment sentences will be imposed on those caught engaging in homosexual acts. Drink driving is also against the law in Zambia.

Dental Care

Routine dental care is quite good in Lusaka, but more complicated procedures such as crowns, orthodontic work and oral surgery work, should not be undertaken in Zambia.

Eye care

Opticians can be found in Zambia but ophthalmologists are rare. Expats are advised to bring extra pairs of glasses together with a copy of their lens prescription, in case a replacement is needed. Extra contact lenses and cleansing solutions should also be brought with you just in case it is needed.


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Health Insurance For Expats, Business Travellers, Employees Working living in Zambia