Eritrea has made vast strides in recent years in improving its health services, and is now only one of a handful of African countries on target to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. There are now modern, fully equipped healthcare facilities in all of the large cities; however, elsewhere you may find that services and drug availability are wanting. It is therefore advisable to bring a basic medical kit and painkillers if you should be staying in the more remote areas.
Hospitals are controlled by the government, and health services are generally provided free of charge or occasionally at a small cost. There are some small private clinics that are run in partnership with the government and also several NGO health facilities, however, the state surgeries and hospitals are very much in the majority.
If you are in need of emergency medical attention, dial 124422 for the Eritrean Ambulance Service.
The Eritrean government has invested heavily in its state subsidized education system, and it has particularly put money behind those subjects thought to be most beneficial for the ongoing success of the country.
Compulsory between the ages of seven and 13, there are five tiers of education in Eritrea — pre-primary, primary, middle, secondary and tertiary. There are also two universities, the University of Asmara and the Eritrea Institute of Technology, as well as many colleges including the College of Business and Economics, the College of Nursing and Health Technology and the College of Arts and Social Sciences.
Petty theft is rare throughout most of Eritrea, even in Asmara, however, as with anywhere it’s advisable to be vigilant and not walk the streets alone after dark.
The only major safety threat exists in areas close to the borders of Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti. Tensions between the nations mean that these areas are heavily militarized and there is no crossing of borders permitted whatsoever. Towns near the borders should be avoided as not only is there the risk of politically motivated violence but petty crime rates here are much higher than elsewhere in the country.
The emergency telephone number for the police is 127799.