The government, with the assistance of The World Bank, has worked to improve Azerbaijan’s healthcare system in recent years. New medical facilities have been constructed and there have been projects to train medical staff and introduce new equipment.
Still, healthcare in Azerbaijan remains largely underdeveloped compared to most European countries. Most expats access quality private healthcare in Baku and, in serious cases, seek treatment abroad, mostly in Turkey or elsewhere in Europe.
Public healthcare in Azerbaijan
Public hospitals in Azerbaijan are state-run and offer free medical care to Azerbaijani residents. The facilities include policlinics, which offer outpatient services, and hospitals, dispensaries and specialised clinics, which offer both outpatient and inpatient services.
Despite positive changes in recent years, public healthcare in Azerbaijan remains inefficient and underfunded. Most facilities are located in Baku and public healthcare is almost non-existent outside the city – those facilities that do exist lack services, equipment and medical staff. Expats who live outside the capital city will likely need to travel to Baku to access public healthcare services.
Private healthcare in Azerbaijan
Fortunately, private medical facilities offer much higher standards of care, including modern equipment and well-qualified staff. Thanks to this, most expats living in Azerbaijan choose to use private hospitals. The private healthcare sector has undergone expansion in recent years, leaving expats with more options when it comes to their health.
Additionally, Azerbaijan has seen a growing popularity in the medical tourism sector, with visitors from Georgia, Iran, Turkey and Russia. Healthcare costs are relatively affordable and there is a wide range of treatments available, from conventional to alternative practices.
Private health facilities are better equipped to attend to basic health issues, although more serious medical care may require evacuation and repatriation outside Azerbaijan. Expats should ensure that they have comprehensive medical insurance to cover any medical evacuations.
Pharmacies in Azerbaijan
There are plenty of pharmacies (aptek) in the main cities in Azerbaijan which are well stocked with a range of medication. Many pharmacies in Baku are open 24/7.
Health insurance in Azerbaijan
Medical insurance is mandatory in Azerbaijan. All Azeris are covered under the country's newly introduced universal healthcare policy and are entitled to free medical care. Under the national health insurance system, coverage includes primary, inpatient and outpatient services, emergency care, vaccinations and lab services, among other benefits.
For expats who move to Azerbaijan, private health insurance is a must. This is typically arranged through their employer, and we advise that expats thoroughly go through their insurance documents to understand the extent of their coverage.
Expats from the United Kingdom should note that the UK and Azerbaijan no longer have a reciprocal healthcare agreement.
Health hazards and pre-travel vaccines in Azerbaijan
There are a few serious health hazards in Azerbaijan that expats need to worry about, although new arrivals should be aware of safety concerns in Azerbaijan, including road safety and conflict in certain areas.
Malaria is present, yet low risk, in some southern regions and prophylaxis may be required. While tap water is generally safe to drink, water quality is low in areas such as Baku. It's recommended to drink bottled water, boil tap water or use a filter or water purification tablets.
Expats should ensure that all their routine vaccinations are up to date. This includes measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), flu and polio vaccines, while Hepatitis A and B vaccines are also recommended. It's best to consult a healthcare professional when travelling to Azerbaijan.
Emergency services in Azerbaijan
Emergency services are available in Baku, but are limited outside the city. For an ambulance, expats can dial 103.