Travel Health

Health

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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...

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