Healthcare for Expats in South Africa

Perhaps you’ll remember that it didn’t take long for our family to make the acquaintance with a hospital after moving to South Africa in 2010.

  • Less than a month in I was struck down by tick bite fever, except I didn’t know it, and ended up going to the emergency room. 
  • About a year later, over New Year’s, our  youngest daughter Sunshine made an unpleasant acquaintance with the corner of a night stand when jumping on the bed with her brother Jabulani and needed several stitches in her forehead. 
  • A bit later, that same brother in turn made an even more unpleasant acquaintance with the foot of an attacking soccer player when trying to save the goal, and needed surgery on his arm. 
  • Not to mention getting the whole family vaccinated for yellow fever, getting tested for concussions after rugby matches, and keeping an orthodontist busy around the clock with three out of four kids with more wiring in their mouths than behind your cable box.

The good news in all that? Let’s just say that we definitely got our money’s worth out of our global healthcare plan!

Are you moving ...  Continue Reading

Medical Emergencies in Johannesburg

The following is a guest post by Barbara Bruhwiler.

At age nine, my daughter has already been to a plastic surgeon three times. And it’s not because she needed a new nose or smaller ears or that she is particularly vain. It’s just that, like most kids, she happens to have a small accident from time to time. And when she does, doctors at the trauma ...  Continue Reading

Giving Birth in South Africa

Before you put yourself in a frenzy and start congratulating me, let me point out that this post is not about me. I just happened to interview a friend some time back about her experience when I was writing an article for the website Expatica. I thought it might be a good idea to re-post it here for those among you who might find it relevant. I HAVE given birth abroad, so I know the feeling. It’s just that two of my babies have since turned into teenagers, meaning I am not so keen to add any more to the teenage pipeline.

I do know that when you’re an expat, one of the things you most worry about is the prospect of giving birth abroad. But it can also be one of the best experiences of your life. Below, Lydie Buwalda tells her story of giving birth (several times over!) in South Africa.

It started fourteen years ...  Continue Reading

Healthcare in South Africa

If you’re considering an expat assignment in South Africa, you’ll probably have three main areas of concern: Safety, education, and healthcare. I’ve previously touched on both schools and safety, but a comprehensive post on healthcare is way overdue.

Even though we’ve since sampled several hospitals, just so I can give you a first-hand account in the healthcare department, I don’t think I ever told you of my first emergency room experience. I went ahead and contracted tick bite fever not more than one month into our move. It turns out tick bite fever is very common around here if you do any kind of hiking, especially in the rainy season. That is exactly what we did over Easter weekend 2010, when we went on our first safari at Yellow Wood Game Lodge in the Waterberg (a mountain range about 2 hours to the Northeast of Joburg). Technically it was supposed to be the dry season (“It has NEVER rained here in April!”) but in a twist very typical for our family (we should be called the Murphy’s), all records were broken when WE were there, and it rained and rained and rained, prompting the lodge owner to be worried about leaks in the beautiful thatch roof, which he swore he’d never had to deal with before. So I’m not surprised that ticks were roaming freely. If someone had warned me about it, I might have worn long pants and checked for ticks, but when planning our trip I had dedicated long hours of research into the question of malaria (just FYI, the Waterberg is a Malaria free area), NOT tick bite fever.

Our trip was beautiful, despite rain, but ...  Continue Reading

Expat Life and Orthodontics

Expat life and orthodontics don’t mix very well. In fact, moving anywhere doesn’t agree with orthodontic treatment in your children. This sadly is one area of our expat existence where I can’t proclaim any joy at all. Except maybe one little silver lining, and that’s just because  ...  Continue Reading

Travelling in Africa – of Visas and Yellow Fever Certificates

I promised to keep you posted on what happens when you go through immigration in Zanzibar. The arrivals hall, or should I say shack, was every bit as cramped and sweat-stenched as I had imagined when musing about this scene ahead of our trip. And no, it was not a breeze to get our visas, whatever was I thinking?

You actually can get a Tanzania visa ahead of time at one of their embassies and I’m sure we could have all driven to Pretoria for this task, but it seemed much easier at the time to just do it upon arrival. All you have to bring,
 ...  Continue Reading