Working in Morocco?
Health & Safety in Morocco
Medical care in the big cities is often adequate, although it does not live up to Western standards. In July 2013, the Minister of Health admitted that there is unfortunately an inadequate number of doctors and nurses, due in part to the thousands of emigrating Moroccan doctors.
In rural areas, medical care is often non-existent. Few doctors can speak English. The US Embassy in Rabat has compiled a list of English-speaking doctors and healthcare professionals in Morocco. Due to the public healthcare system’s deficiencies, most expats choose to visit private hospitals. In fact, the public healthcare system is severely underfunded and only works decently (for Moroccan standards) in the big cities. In rural areas and small cities, it is often barely functional. Allianz Worldwide Care provides a list of private hospitals in Rabat and Casablanca.
Pharmacies can be found in all of Morocco’s cities and villages. Most over-the-counter and prescription medications can be obtained without difficulty. The opening hours are similar to those of other businesses. There are also all-night pharmacies. Each pharmacy posts a list of the locations which are open on Sundays and holidays.
No vaccinations are necessary for entering Morocco, although it may be advisable to get immunizations for Hepatitis A and B, as well as for typhoid fever. Insect-borne diseases, including typhoid and leishmaniasis, are common, although malaria is not.
Tap water can generally be consumed, although the taste of the tap water in some cities may be unpalatable to some. It is advisable to avoid raw and undercooked food, as well as swimming in fresh water, as this may expose you to schistosomiasis (bilharzia), a parasitic disease.
In case of emergency, please dial 15 for emergency medical services or 190 for the police.
In 2005, the Moroccan government introduced a mandatory public healthcare scheme for employees in the formal public and private sectors. The Assurance Maladie Obligatoire (AMO) only covers 30% of the population, though. In 2012, the government therefore introduced the Régime d'Assistance Médicale (RAMED), a non-contributory basic health insurance, to cover the informal sector, an estimated further 30% of the population. Self-employed people and their staff are currently not covered under either scheme.
The National Social Security Fund (Caisse Nationale de Securité Sociale) is responsible for managing the contributions from employees in the private sector. You, as well as your spouse and any children under 18, if they are doing an apprenticeship, or under 21, if they pursue the international baccalaureate and further study, are covered by this plan.
As this insurance only covers basic healthcare in the country’s overcrowded public hospitals, many companies offer additional top-up insurance. If your company does not offer additional insurance, you may want to look into purchasing private health insurance for yourself and your family, especially if you wish to receive care in the more expensive private hospitals.
Crime is prevalent in Morocco, particularly in major cities and tourist areas. The most common crimes involve pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, as well as theft from vehicles stopped in traffic. Weapons, usually knives, are sometimes used, but in general violent crime is not a major concern in Morocco. Theft and aggressive begging can also occur around ATMs. Women traveling alone often experience harassment. It is best to ignore this, if possible, to avoid escalating the situation.
There is a potential for terrorist violence in Morocco, so it is important that foreigners follow their embassy’s safety advice and keep up-to-date on what they say about life in Morocco. In April 2011, a terrorist attack on Jema el Fna Square in Marrakech killed 17 people and injured 25 others, many of them foreigners. Demonstrations are often held, and usually remain peaceful, but should nonetheless be avoided by expats if possible.
It is not advisable to travel within Western Sahara, as there are a large number of unexploded mines in the territory. Please note that the border to Algeria is closed and its crossing should not be attempted.
Morocco lies in an earthquake zone, and minor earthquakes are occasional occurrences. It is best to acquaint yourself with the appropriate procedure in case of an earthquake. Flash flooding is possible in the rainy season from October to March. Roads are often washed away during these months.
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