In today’s world, people are travelling to different countries around the globe within a few hours and hence the world has becomes a much smaller place. Even in Fiji, these days we find the airports full of people travelling to various destinations for work, leisure and to visit families and friends. In the year of 2005 there were 4.1 billion travellers globally, the figure has increased to 5.2 billion in the year old 2010 and people even forecasted that it would touch almost 9.1 billion in the year 2025. As today there are many feasible airlines and arrangements, so people tend to go wherever they want. Many people tend to plan holidays in the far countries like the Asia, Africa and many more. The important part is to plan early. The main thing that people forget about is their health. International travel can pose various risks to health, depending on the characteristics of both the traveller and the travel. Travellers may encounter sudden and significant changes in altitude, humidity, microbes, and temperature, which can result in ill-health. In addition, serious health risks may arise in areas where accommodation is of poor quality, hygiene and sanitation are inadequate, medical services are not well developed and clean water is unavailable.(World Health Organization) Therefore a very important visit to make about 4-6 weeks prior to travel is with your general practitioner or a travel health clinic. This is to ensure that you receive the appropriate travel advise according to your destination. Amongst these include vaccines such as hepatitis A and typhoid especially if you are travelling to Asia. The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for travel to Africa and South America. As you can see, travel vaccines form an important part of the consultation, as they can reduce your chances of contracting these vaccines preventable diseases. Malaria prophylaxis is also important if you are visiting an area that has malaria. This can be in the form of medications such as daily doxycycline or malarone or weekly larium tablets. In addition, it is important to use a mosquito repellent and ensure that you are not exposed during dawn and dusk, as the anopheles mosquitoes that carry malaria are most active during these times. In addition to vaccination, it is important to carry a travel kit with basics items such as paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain and fever, band-aids for cuts and abrasions, oral rehydration salts for diarrhea, medication for travel sickness, sunscreen to avoid sunburn, antiseptic in case of wounds and many such items. It is also important to ensure that you carry enough of your regular prescription medications so that you do not end up in a situation where you run out of medications. Travellers also need to be aware of the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases especially if engaging in sexual activity with new partners overseas and hence the need to be aware of the use of condoms and engaging in safe sexual practice. Personal safety also needs to be emphasized during the consultation so that precautions are taking to avoid road traffic accidents, drowning, alcohol excess and robbery. Travel health insurance is another important area as this will ensure that you are covered incase you fall ill or need to be medically evacuated. So prior to your next trip overseas, please ensure that you make that pre-travel visit with your doctor so that you are well prepared during your trip and stay physically healthy so that you are able to enjoy that dream destination you’ve been waiting for years! Beautiful words by Gustave Flaubert “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
DR. KRUPALI RATHOD TAPPOO is an Australian qualified General Practitioner, a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Medical Coordinator for Fiji-based NGO Sai Prema Foundation. Dr. Krupali is based at Mitchells Clinic...