The standard of healthcare in Algeria varies widely and may not be up to the standards that many expats are used to. This is because public healthcare is chronically underfunded and hindered by bureaucratic obstacles. While services are adequate in the major cities, such as Algiers or Oran, healthcare provision in remote areas is poor to non-existent.
Public healthcare in Algeria
Public healthcare is provided for free to all Algerian citizens. However, due to budgeting and bureaucratic issues, the standards of public healthcare in Algeria remain poor. The majority of medical staff will speak French, with English not widely spoken.
Expats working in Algeria have access to free public healthcare via the social security system. The employer is responsible for registering their foreign staff, and will pay monthly contributions and deduct them from the employee's salary.
Private healthcare in Algeria
Private healthcare provision in Algeria has rapidly grown to fill the gaps in the public healthcare system, and standards are generally higher than what expats can find within the public domain. Due to local staff shortages, private clinics are often staffed by foreign medical professionals, and expats are more likely to encounter doctors who speak English here. Hospitals and clinics typically expect cash payments upfront for treatments, and the cost of private healthcare in Algeria makes it inaccessible for many locals.
Health insurance in Algeria
The national medical insurance scheme is available for salaried and independent workers and their dependents, granting access to the public healthcare system for 90 percent of the population. There is no existing national private health insurance scheme in Algeria.
Expats should arrange comprehensive health insurance before arriving in the country, especially if they're working in remote areas. Expat health insurance in Algeria should include local emergency care and possible repatriation to a country with better health facilities.
Pharmacies and medication in Algeria
Pharmacies are widely available in Algerian towns and cities, and they're a well-trusted source of medical advice. They're open daily during the week and in shifts on weekends and evenings.
Getting over-the-counter medicines in Algeria is fairly easy, but filling prescriptions may be difficult. It may also be challenging to get prescription drugs of good quality in Algeria, especially beyond Algiers. New arrivals should try to bring medication for chronic medical conditions in large quantities. Expats should bring copies of prescriptions in case of immigration or customs queries over the importation of medication, and should also consider bringing French translations of medical documents.
Health hazards in Algeria
Heatstroke and dehydration are significant health risks for expats due to the extreme heat in parts of the country. It's essential to stay well-hydrated at all times. Bottled water is recommended, as tap water in Algeria isn't potable. Sand and dust storms are also a health risk for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Vaccinations for Algeria
Before they travel to Algeria, expats and tourists should consult a healthcare provider to ensure they have received the appropriate vaccinations to safeguard their health. The following vaccinations may be recommended:
- Routine vaccinations: including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (TDAP), varicella (chickenpox), polio and an annual flu shot.
- Hepatitis A
Emergency services in Algeria
- Police: 17
- Fire: 14
- Ambulance 213
- Gendarme (national police operating in rural areas): 1055
Emergency operators may only speak French or Arabic, and emergency response times may be slow, especially in remote regions. Expats should make sure they have their embassy's emergency number saved.