The importance of pre-travel health programmes

International Healthcare

In light of World Malaria Day, medical and travel risk security services company International SOS has warned that less than one-quarter of organisations have pre-travel health programmes in place, which means employees are being exposed to the risks of malaria.

The company said that, according to its data, malaria represents an increasing proportion of offshore medical and accident or injury cases, such as on oil and gas rigs, rising from 13 per cent of all medical cases in 2014 to 41 per cent in 2016. It added that with appropriate programmes in place, a greater proportion of these have been managed, from 65 per cent to 90 per cent in 2016.

“While the fight against malaria is reducing the global burden, we still receive thousands of calls into our Assistance Centre each year for this preventable disease. Malaria can have extremely serious personal health consequences and for businesses can result in significant costs through a failed assignment,” said Dr Irene Lai, medical director, medical information and analysis. “Organisations can mitigate this risk with a few simple measures such as education of employees prior to travel, providing travellers with preventive measures and monitoring outbreaks.”

Bernard Aryeety, deputy director of advocacy group Malaria No More UK, commented on the threat posed by malaria: “The UK also has the second highest [number of] imported cases of malaria per year in developed countries and, globally, over 10,000 travellers are reported to return home with malaria each year. This disease continues to pose a serious threat with serious consequences if not treated correctly,” he said. “The emergence of drug and insecticide resistance also threatens to derail progress, reminding us that the gains of recent years could be rapidly reversed, potentially increasing threat levels to both leisure and business travellers as well as communities. But our global ambition is to reduce global numbers of cases and deaths by wiping out the disease for good.”