South Africa has a world-class health care system in some respects, although the level of care available depends on where you are in the country and how much you are able to pay. In the urban centres, hospitals are relatively advanced, treating most of the most prevalent conditions and diseases. The basic choice is between the private and the public health systems. For those who have medical insurance (which is called medical aid in South Africa) or substantial funds the private system is available, while others may make use of the public system. Make sure that you know what is covered by your insurance policy.
If you want to visit a doctor in South Africa, you need to make an appointment before the time. Arriving without an appointment is rude and should only be done in emergencies. You can usually get an appointment for the same day, or if the patient can’t leave home, the doctor will come to you. You may pay the doctors immediately, or later via an account, but either way you will be required to fill in a form before your appointment. This is standard practice and should not be cause for alarm.
Medication is dispensed mainly by pharmacies and hospitals, but also by some doctors. Pharmacists are highly trained and tend to know a lot about medications. Sometimes, they can give you appropriate medication without a doctor’s opinion, but for other medications you will need a doctor’s prescription (RX), particularly if you require chronic or serious medication.
South Africa is fortunate not to have specifically endemic diseases. but keep the following in mind. HIV/Aids is a serious problem in South Africa, so if you are sexually active outside of a trusting relationship you should be aware of the risks involved. Linked to the prevalence of HIV is tuberculosis (consumption/TB), which is most prevalent in the winter-rainfall area of the Western Cape. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle should protect you from TB, such as not smoking and wearing warm clothing in winter. In the far north of South Africa, one sometimes encounters malaria, but there is freely available information on how to deal with it, and it is not a serious problem.