What is healthcare in Cabo Verde like?

Facilities and Health Information

Medical facilities in Cabo Verde are limited, and, despite an extensive network of local pharmacies, some medications are in short supply or otherwise unavailable. The country’s largest hospitals (all public) are in Praia and Mindelo, but smaller public health centers and private medical clinics, of variable quality in both personnel and equipment, are located throughout the country. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão do not have airports, so air evacuation from them in the event of a medical emergency is impossible.

Malaria exists in Cabo Verde but is mainly limited to the island of Santiago. Nationwide, malaria is far less prevalent than in mainland African countries with approximately 20-40 cases occurring annually, almost always among recent West African migrants who contracted the illness before arriving on the islands. Although many expatriates do not believe there is a need for malaria prophylaxis, it is important to be aware that there is an elevated risk of contracting the disease from July to December, especially during the rainy season (August-October).

In 2009, Cabo Verde experienced its first-ever epidemic of dengue fever, another mosquito-borne illness, the spread of which was facilitated by an unusually heavy rainy season. Unlike malaria, no prophylaxis exists against dengue fever. Ultimately, 21,000 cases were reported, affecting all nine inhabited islands, with six fatalities nationwide. Since then, the number of dengue cases has dropped drastically. In 2010, the Cabo Verdean government received notification of 405 cases, 16 of which were confirmed by a laboratory. No deaths were reported. At least two cases were reported in 2011, with no confirmed deaths. As of August 2013, there was only one case of dengue reported by state television, although with the rainy season ahead, travelers should exercise vigilance. Even with the reduced risk of dengue as a public health threat in Cabo Verde, travelers are advised to minimize exposure to both dengue and malaria by taking precautions against mosquito bites, which are most common at dawn and dusk, particularly from July to December. Like malaria, no vaccine exists for dengue, so travelers in Cabo Verde who exhibit symptoms as described on the CDC’s dengue fact sheet should immediately seek medical attention. Depending on how long you are in Cabo Verde, symptoms may not present themselves until after you return to the United States. Since medical professionals in the United States often do not test patients for either illness, make sure you tell the doctor evaluating your symptoms that you have recently been in a country where both malaria and dengue fever exists.

If you need a doctor in Cabo Verde, a list of medical providers and hospitals is available on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Praia.

Drinking Water Source - % of rural population improved


Drinking Water Source - % of total population unimproved


Drinking Water Source - % of urban population improved


HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


People Living with HIV/AIDS


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Sanitation Facility Access - % of total population unimproved


Sanitation Facility Access - % of urban population improved


Sanitation Facility Access - % of rural population improved


Medical Insurance in Cabo Verde

Medical Insurance

Uninsured travelers who encounter medical emergencies overseas often face extreme difficulties. Most medical insurance plans do not include coverage outside one's country. Getting medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be very expensive, and, if you need it, a medical evacuation back to your country can cost more than $50,000!

Your local embassy may assist in locating appropriate medical services, informing family or friends, and may even assist in the transfer of funds from back home. But ultimately, payment of hospital and other expenses is entirely your responsibility.

Check the terms of your health insurance policy, whether it’s your own, under your parents' policy, or through your school. If you are not covered while out of the country, you may need to purchase additional coverage. Many travel agents and private companies offer plans that will cover health care expenses overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

Mental Health

Traveling or studying overseas is not a cure for health conditions such as depression or attention deficit disorder. Sometimes going abroad may in fact amplify a condition. One may not have adequate access to prescription medication or mental health facilities. In addition, culture shock, language barriers, and homesickness can deepen isolation or depression.

Before traveling, create a workable plan for managing your mental health while abroad. The availability and quality of mental health services differ widely from country to country. In many countries, one will find it difficult — and sometimes impossible — to find treatment for mental health conditions. With your health services provider or your school, put together a workable mental health plan before you go overseas.

If you have a medical or psychological condition that may require treatment while you are abroad, discuss this ahead of time with your doctor. A vacation or study abroad is a great opportunity to try new things but this is not the time to experiment with not taking your medicine or mixing alcohol with medicine.

Research the social culture of your destination to learn about how mental illnesses are viewed. Attitudes toward mental health can greatly vary between countries.

If you are studying abroad through your university, talk to your university about access to mental health services at overseas programs. Your study abroad office can help you decide what program would be best for you.

If currently receiving mental health services — including prescription medication — find out if those services and/or medication are available at your destination.

Consider the support system you’ll have in place while abroad. If possible, know ahead of time who you can consult about your mental health.


While you’re abroad is not the time to suddenly realize you ran out of your prescription!

If you have a condition that requires regular medication, bring an extra quantity with you and pack it in your carry-on, just in case your checked luggage gets lost. Just remember to keep it in its original container and clearly labeled — you don’t want to create the impression you’re carrying drugs that haven’t been prescribed to you. In fact, you should check with the local embassy to make sure that your medication is acceptable to carry into the country. Some countries may consider your prescription medication to be illegal. Bring a letter from your doctor listing your medications and explaining why you need them. Doing your research and having a letter can help prevent any misunderstandings along the way.

Bring extras of any medical necessities you need, like contact lenses or glasses. You might want to pack a pair in both your carry-on bag and your checked luggage, just to be safe.

If you have allergies to certain medications, foods, insect bites, or other unique medical problems, consider wearing one of those “medical alert” bracelets and carry a letter from your doctor explaining the required treatment if you become ill. It might not be the coolest piece of jewelry you wear, but it could save your life.


How important is it to do your research about vaccinations? It might just save your life! Make yourself aware of the different types of vaccinations and which ones you may need to travel to your destination. Schedule an appointment with your doctor at least four to six weeks before you travel to ensure you receive all important shots.

Be sure that you and your family are up to date on your routine vaccinations.

Which vaccinations you need will depend on a number of factors including your destination, whether you will be spending time in rural areas, the season of the year you are traveling, your age, health status, and previous immunizations.

Disability Access In Cabo Verde


While in Cabo Verde, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation considerably more limited than in the United States. The country’s rugged terrain, the widespread use of cobblestone streets and pathways, the very limited number of elevators in buildings, and the frequency of power outages all constitute significant hardships for persons with limited mobility. Although the Cabo Verdean constitution guarantees that persons with disabilities will receive priority in the provision of government services and stipulates that public buildings must be accessible to the disabled, in reality, few such accommodations have been made. However, the country does have national advocacy organizations for the visually and hearing impaired that actively seek to expand such accommodations.


You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, and health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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