South African medical facilities are, in general, of a high standard, particularly in urban areas where large state-hospitals and private clinics are in good supply.
State-run hospitals with their subsidised facilities, however, suffer the problems of overcrowding. Private hospitals, which number in the region of 80 countrywide, mostly fall under the control of health providers Netcare or Medi-Clinic. These South African medical centres offer high standards and specialist treatments, but rates are a lot higher. Tourists are advised to take out comprehensive medical cover before their arrival in South Africa.
Having said this, medical treatment here is often less costly than abroad, and visitors sometimes elect to have operations, in the field of plastic surgery for instance, in South Africa.
Provincially-run emergency services, also under pressure, are now assisted by a number or privately-operated services, which attend to roadside and other emergencies, transporting patients in well-equipped ambulances and emergency vehicles to appropriate hospitals.
The standard of training of doctors in South Africa has enjoyed a good reputation for decades. Urban areas are well supplied with general and specialist practitioners, all registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Most require payment on consultation, and may offer discounts for immediate settlement
South African pharmacists are unable to dispense Schedule 4 drugs and up without a prescription, so tourists on chronic medication who expect to run out during their stay, should come armed with the necessary doctor's script.
The country has many other medical professionals such as dentists, physiotherapists, psychologists, biokineticists, podiatrists, as well as alternative medical practitioners such as homeopaths, acupuncturists and reflexologists. Health shops abound, often staffed by knowledgeable people offering sound advice.
For travel off the beaten track, it should be noted that rural medical facilities in South Africa are less sophisticated, with the attention on primary medical care.