Gaborone - Post Report Question and Answers
Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Basic medical care is probably ok, especially if the Health Unit advocates for your interests. Generally, more serious issues require medevac. - Dec 2023
Embassy heath care was poor. Other people have detailed this pretty accurately. I had some health issues I was concerned about and I did not care for the local doctor the Embassy employed. - Jul 2019
The US Embassy and the Department of State have totally failed (FAILED!) to provide "the best possible" (or even adequate) health care to the State Department employees, in my opinion. There is no Foreign Service Health Practitioner at Post and the local doctor that the embassy has contracted is totally untrustworthy and incompetent. In addition, the doctors that are listed on the Local Medical Assistance section of the Embassy's website, and those that the Health Unit sends its employees to have horrible reputations, and to appear to recommended more because they are personal friends of the locally contracted doctor rather than their abilities.
In my view, the Department has turned Embassy Gaborone's proximity to Pretoria (a 5-hour drive) into a disadvantage. Issues that at other posts would warrant a medical evacuation, are not granted one from Gaborone. Essentially MED has taken a very liberal view of the term "local provider" ands deemed services available in Pretoria as locally available, and the patient is on their own to travel to Pretoria and pay for associated travel and lodging.
Many employees of the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone forgo the services offered by the Embassy Health Unit and utilize local doctors. This is one oasis in the midst of a very bad situation. There are some very good family doctors in Gaborone and elsewhere in Botswana. Ask your colleagues or the Community Liaison Office who they recommend. It is a bit odd to be working around the Embassy Health unit, but that is the unfortunate situation at this post. - Apr 2017
Botswana has one of the world's highest HIV prevalence rates. You'd be crazy not to take real precautions for that. There are a couple of good hospitals and high quality doctors, but people are regularly evacuated for things like appendicitis. Many expatriate women have their babies here. High risk or complicated issues though should be evacuated. Pretoria is nearby.
The U.S. Embassy does not have a full time practitioner. Many conditions are not evacuated and it is assumed people will take care of issues in Pretoria on their personal time, including mammograms, digestive issues, dental care. Many U.S. mission personnel get frustrated by this. - Jul 2016
This is a big concern - there are no American nurses or other medical professionals on staff at the Embassy health unit, and VERY limited capacity on the local economy. The HU contains two nurses and one doctor, all local (but the doctor is American-trained and pretty good). Anything beyond the occasional cold/food poisoning/sprained ankle gets referred to Pretoria, and because we are so close in proximity, medevac is not always covered. Many complain about having to seek medical care in Pretoria on their own dime. - Mar 2015
Not good. You would get evacuated to Pretoria. No good Doctors. here. Also the country has high levels of HIV. No special needs support or they are really limited. One one OT available in the whole town... and not as reliable for appointments. - Oct 2014
None. Although, major medical emergencies are medivac'd to South Africa. Routine medical care is adequate however. - Nov 2013
As mentioned, this is the country with the second-highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world. The drinking water was recently declared non-potable. The U.S. Embassy is installing high-tech filtration systems in all personnel homes and in the office facilities. Malaria prophylaxis is not necessary unless traveling to the northern areas of the country, including the Okavango Delta, which are malarial zones. Dental care is good. Medical care is marginal; medevac flights to nearby Johannesburg, even just for a consultative appointment, are common. The only Embassy-recommended OB-GYNs, a German couple, recently left the country because of difficulties as mentioned above with permits. Pediatric care is OK. The Embassy Regional Medical Officer visits quarterly from Harare. A local, U.S.-trained physician was recently hired to work some hours out of the Embassy Health Unit, which has improved the services available there. - Jul 2013
For anything serious you can go to South Africa. I found a good GP, but in my opinion you have to look around to find a doctor you're comfortable with. Not so great on dentists. Coming from the US, I didn't find them to be very proactive. - Apr 2013
Medical care is improving. They have recently opened a state of the art private hospital in Gabs, but it is still having some staffing issues. You can get routine work done, but for surgery, I would still prefer to head to South Africa or back home to the US/Europe. Remember that Botswana has one of the world's highest HIV infection rates in the world-- and modify your behavior accordingly! - Jun 2010