Jelf International has launched a guide to Sierra Leone highlighting issues that employers should be aware of with employee provision in the region.
Jelf said that while Sierra Leone may be the emerging jewel in West Africa, there are a number of challenges for UK employers considering relocating staff to the country.
The firm added with the high-risk, high-reward potential luring many companies to the region, especially mining, oil & gas and related service industries, employers must fully research the healthcare implications for staff.
Jelf said one of the main issues for employers is the lack of western-style medicine and facilities available: despite having one of the most developed provider networks in the world even BUPA International, a leading private medical insurer, has only around 20 contracted facilities across the country.
James Spencer, international development manager at Jelf International said: "A critical consideration is not how many medical facilities an employer's insurer contracts with, but their proximity to the employer's operations, any quality accreditations, and opening times."
Jelf suggests that in an emergency, the best outcome is usually for employees to be stabilised in the country and then be medically evacuated to the nearest centre of medical excellence.
However, with Air Medical Evacuations routinely costing in excess of $100,000 USD, having appropriate employee healthcare is crucial for employers to protect their balance sheet against such outlays.
For employees with a significant employee population of 100+, it could be worth considering contracting an approved physician, who can be paid on a ‘retainer', to provide basic medical care and coordinate with insurers and assist companies in the event of a medical emergency.
Alternatively, renowned western-style facilities are available outside Sierra Leone in Ghana which are managed by International SOS and their competitors, and may require an employer to arrange for all employees to have membership, in addition to their international medical insurance.
The guide also covers the benefit of pre-screening, diseases and dental checks ups.
Spencer continued: "Realistically healthcare won't be the first thing on an employer's mind when making the decision to expand overseas. However, in countries such as Sierra Leone, where the general standard of living differs hugely from the UK, all employers do need to give adequate consideration to the needs of their staff in the event of routine illnesses, ongoing conditions and medical emergencies."