Sanaa, also spelled Sana’a, is the capital and largest city in Yemen. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Sana’a, especially the old city, has a very distinct architectural style, famous for its multi-story buildings that are decorated with geometric patterns. In addition to its architectural beauty, Sanaa is also full of cultural wealth. In 1986, it was named a World Heritage City, and in 2004, it was the Arab cultural capital of the year. Some of the buildings in Sanaa are more than 1400 years old.
Tourist cultural attractions in Yemen include the many markets where it is possible to purchase spices, antiques, cotton, copper, pottery, silverware, and all types of cultural keepsakes. Other popular destinations include the 7th century Great Mosque, which is one of the oldest in the Muslim world.
Sanaa is the fastest growing capital city in the world. The population is growing at a rate of 7 percent, and this population is expected to double in ten years. Most of this growth can be attributed to the migration from rural to urban areas. Sanaa has been a destination for many refugees and immigrants from nearby countries, which gives it a diverse ethnic makeup. Sanaa’s climate is a milder version of desert climate. Temperatures are quite moderate throughout the year because of its high elevation. The city never gets extremely hot or cold.
Sanaa has the best public healthcare in the country because it has the most advance private and tertiary level hospitals. However, the public healthcare system is still greatly underdeveloped. Public facilities tend to have very long lines and lack essential supplies and medicines. Private health facilities are also available in the capital. They tend to be the best in the country, as Sanaa is the most popular tourist destination. However, the quality, as with the health centers in the rest of Yemen, is still lower than that of countries in North America and Western Europe.
Sanaa’s health care network is focused on the primary health care approach. Basic health clinics provide the majority of curative and preventative care. However, with the lack of an efficient referral system, most patients who need the care are rarely transferred to a secondary or tertiary hospital from the primary level. The secondary level is made up of the district and governorate facilities that offer more sophisticated services. The tertiary level has the largest and most advanced hospitals in the country. Typically, these are located only in urban areas, and also serve as teaching hospitals.
The private sector has been rapidly growing since 1990, driven by the deterioration of the public health system. Currently, the private health sector provides about 70 percent of health care in the country. Private healthcare in Yemen is much cheaper than many western countries. Although the quality of care of private facilities is better than public ones, the level of care is still below that of North America and Western Europe. Waiting lines are also much shorter. Most wealthy Yemenis and expatriates will choose to use private healthcare or go abroad for treatment.
Travelers and expatriates planning a trip to Yemen are strongly advised to take out an international medical insurance. Although public health facilities are very affordable for expatriates and travelers, the quality is also very low. Private healthcare services are of an acceptable standard for basic medical services. However, for more complicated medical conditions, you will want to be repatriated or transferred to another country. Costs for emergency medical transportation can be as high as $100,000 USD depending on your location and medical condition.
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Please contact us today if you wish to learn more about international medical insurance or need advice regarding traveling to Sana’a.