Medical internships in Zanzibar

The Mnazi Mmoja Hospital is Zanzibar’s main health care facility and is located just outside of Stone Town, which is the historic centre of Zanzibar Town. The hospital features wards dedicated to Emergency Services, Paediatrics, Gynaecology, Internal Medicine (Gastrology, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Nephrology), Surgery, Dermatology, Dental, Neurosurgery, Radiology, ENT (Otolaryngology), and Ophthalmology.

There are also departments which include Acupuncture, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. Additional wards are dedicated to Intensive Care, HIV, and Leprosy (interns are not permitted to enter the leprosy ward unless they have proof of vaccination against tuberculosis). For pharmacy students, there is also scope to focus activities within the hospital’s pharmacy.

Wards are typically separated by gender. In all internship activities, interns should expect to shadow and observe under the guidance of qualified and licensed medical personnel.

Interns must keep in mind that medical facilities in Zanzibar are unlike what you might be used to at home. They are often under-resourced and under-staffed, which presents a number of challenges for both medical professionals and patients. Culture shock can be more pronounced in healthcare environments so interns are expected to maintain a high level of professionalism, focus and compassion.

Open communication and respectful discussion is also important. However, interns must keep in mind that medical personnel may not always be able to immediately discuss their work while directly working with patients. Patience is an essential attribute for this placement, along with the ability to coordinate discussions with supervisors at times when urgent patient care is not taking priority. Interns are expected to address any questions with their supervisor in order to learn and gain enhanced understanding into cultural differences and local practices.

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Minimum Duration

4 weeks

Eligibility Requirement

Students of medicine, nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy and physiotherapy can do an elective placement or an internship at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital. Medical interns must submit their relevant academic record (transcript) and a letter of recommendation from their university.

Associated career paths

Physician, Nurse, Surgeon, General Practitioner, Orderly, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Dentist, Medical Scribe, Medical Administrator, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Clinical Laboratory Technician, Emergency Medical Technician, Radiologic Technologist, Phlebotomist, Optometrist, Cardiovascular Technologist, Anesthesiologist, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist, Obstetrician

How to intern

Internships in Zanzibar begin every Monday and interns may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. Exceptions to start date availability may occur when start dates are closed due to public holiday / festival disruptions or if the program has already reached capacity.

Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee, as well as return transportation to the airport in Zanzibar at the completion of the internship. Interns are required to arrive on the Sunday before their Monday start date. In order to receive this airport pick up, interns fly into the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar (airport code: ZNZ). Note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.

Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation, to settle in and rest. Accommodation is covered from the Sunday night of the internship start date. The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on the Sunday.

Orientation typically takes place on the Monday start date and covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. For participants who will be interning within Zanzibar Town / Stone Town, a walking tour is also covered. Tourism & Hospitality interns, who may be based within popular beach areas, such as Nungwi, Kendwa, Kiwengwa, Paje, Jambiani and Michamvi, will receive a local orientation that’s relevant to their area. If you are planning to spend time independently in Zanzibar prior to the commencement date of your internship, and will not require an airport pick up, then you’ll be required to come directly to the local team’s office in Zanzibar Town / Stone Town for meet and greet on your start date. From there, you will be guided to your home-stay accommodation.

Most interns in Zanzibar are hosted in various homestay accommodations, within Zanzibar Town / Stone Town. The exception to this is that Tourism & Hospitality interns can expect to be located in closer proximity to their internship. For example, locations usually include the popular beach destinations of Zanzibar, such as Nungwi, Kendwa, Kiwengwa, Paje, Jambiani and Michamvi. In this case, accommodation may be located on the grounds of the internship placement (e.g. on the grounds of the hotel), at external guest houses/lodges, or with a host family at the respective village.

For the comfort of our interns, the host families that we work with (within Zanzibar Town / Stone Town) provide a higher standard of living, compared to other typical family homes on the island. They often have access to domestic staff, such as a cook, drivers, nannies, gardeners, housekeepers, and security guards. Employees of the host family usually have their own separate accommodation, provided for them on the same property as the main family home. Typically, these host families have older children who are being educated abroad. Therefore, they are able to comfortably accommodate international interns in Zanzibar while their own children are studying internationally. The household may have younger children who have not yet reached a higher level of education. Interns can expect to have their own bedroom. The meals which are included are typically generous, having been prepared and served by a cook.

Note that accommodation is unlikely to provide WiFi. Unlimited internet plans are typically unavailable in Zanzibar and connection must be paid for by the gigabyte. However, all interns receive a local SIM card for use at their orientation, which initially includes 3 GB of data traffic. Top-up vouchers can be purchased as need be and they are relatively inexpensive.

Internships in Zanzibar include three meals per day, seven days per week, served at the accommodation. The culinary traditions of Zanzibar have been influenced by many nationalities, including Indian, British, Portuguese, Arab, Bantu, and even Chinese. Therefore, typical dishes may reflect a fusion of styles. Rice is a staple, which can be cooked with an array of spices (Zanzibar is the island of spice, after all!) Cinnamon, ginger, cumin, chilli, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves may be used to flavor rice, meat, fish and curry dishes. The famous spice rice of Zanzibar is called “Pilau”. In addition to cooked meals, fresh vegetables and fruits are available and you can also find a wide variety in the local markets. Host families are accustomed to accommodating interns who are vegetarians and can ensure meals are prepared appropriately. Some restaurants will also offer vegetarian dishes. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance (i.e. allergies and intolerances), so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations to you accordingly.

Internship Duration Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks $1151
4 weeks $1747
6 weeks $2333
8 weeks $2919
10 weeks $3505
12 weeks $4091

Medical Internship fees in Zanzibar include Ministry of Health contributions / placement donations, but do not include the exemption certificate which is payable in-country directly to the hospital.

  • To convert these prices to your local currency visit the XE currency converter.
  • All Intern Abroad programs attract a Registration Fee of US$299 in addition to the Program Fee.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges. International wire transfer payments attract a minimum fee of US$75.
  • * Terms and Conditions do apply

What extra costs will I have?

  • Visa and work permit to intern in Zanzibar
  • Flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Souvenirs + tourism/leisure activities during free time.
  • Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, and public transportation. Interns generally find US$25 per week to be sufficient.

Registration fee

What it covers
  • Dedicated intern support
  • Comprehensive internship guide
  • Reflection learning course
  • Flight and travel insurance deals

Program fee

What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up and return
  • Program orientation
  • Internship placement
  • Learning support service
  • Accommodation & meals

Swahili Language Lessons

Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is spoken throughout Zanzibar and it is the national language of Tanzania. (English is only the official language of the High Court). While fluency in Swahili is not a requirement to intern in Zanzibar, learning some of the local language can help enhance your cultural experience and immersion. Starting with a few lessons can help you learn some basics to demonstrate common courtesy. A maximum of ten hours per week are recommended. Lessons are typically conducted individually, but may be shared between 2-3 other participants of the same level (although, the number of participants per lesson does not affect the cost). For more information about language lessons, interns may speak directly to the local team in-country.

Weekends and travel

There are a wide range of tourism excursions to enjoy in and around Zanzibar archipelago. You can join half or full day trips to some of the infamous spice plantations, explore the Jozani Forest National Park and mangroves, sail through the Menai Bay Conservation Area, or even relax within some of the popular beach resorts. While there is a lot to see and do, we recommend chatting with our local team, based in the historical center of Stone Town, for advice. They’re in the best position to advise you regarding responsible tourism operators. Keep in mind that any trip to Africa is not complete with going on safari. We can help interns to arrange budget safari options, within the mainland of Tanzania. Although cost-effective, the trips are high-quality and provide the social opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers and international interns or volunteers. If you’re looking for a challenge and aiming to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, let us know as well - we can assist with arranging affordable accommodation in Moshi, as well as making other recommendations.

Capital Zanzibar City
Population 1.304 million
Languages Swahili, Arabic, English
Currency Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)
Time zone UTC+03:00

Weather and climate: Being near the equator, the islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago are warm year-round, and the temperature doesn’t vary too much throughout the year. The usual highs are between 85°F / 91°F (30°C / 33°C) and the usual lows range between 70°F and 76°F (21°C / 24°C). The hotter times of the year are typically from December through March. From July through October, the temperatures are more comfortable. The wetter season usually begins in late November, leading up to the wettest month of the year, which is April. After April, the dry season begins again around mid to late May.