According to International SOS, countries are reporting a rise in imported malaria cases and travellers are reminded about the importance of taking appropriate precautions and implementing prevention tactics when travelling to malaria endemic areas.
New data indicates a correlation between malaria education and the number of malaria in-patient, out-patient, and evacuation assistance services required by international travellers.
International SOS, a medical and travel security risk services company, analysed the requests for assistance they received regarding malaria over a four-year period (2012-2015). The more calls for advice and information received; the less cases of people needing malaria treatment and assistance. Malaria in-patient and evacuation cases spiked when there were fewer calls for information about malaria.
Dr Irene Lai, Medical Director at International SOS, explains, “Travelling abroad has become very common for some – and, the more the novelty wears off, so does the time and effort in pre-travel preparation. Unfortunately for the global traveller, neglecting the research and preparation for health-related matters can end up with serious consequences.”
A recent global study found that only 32% of travellers research diseases prior to going abroad. Great Britain is far below all of the other countries surveyed, with only 12% of people in Great Britain reporting they research diseases prior to travel abroad.3
Dr Lai commented, “The data shows that lack of pre-travel preparation is the norm, indicating travellers are complacent about risks. It is imperative for travellers to know the symptoms of malaria and seek immediate medical attention if they develop – even if they believe they have taken all the right preventive actions. We still see travellers dying from malaria and these deaths may have been preventable.”
The most effective way for travellers to reduce the likelihood of contracting malaria is to understand the risks at their destination, prevent mosquito bites, and use preventive medication if prescribed.
Malaria cases are on the rise amongst travellers. In June 2015, Public Health England (PHE) reported an overall increase of 5.7% in imported malaria infections.2
In addition to the well-being of travellers and staff, organisations can financially benefit from malaria prevention programmes. Return on Prevention, a paper published by research and consultancy firm Prevent, determined a return of $1.32 for each $1 invested in an employee malaria prevention programme.5
Travellers are encouraged to speak with a travel health professional prior to travelling to malaria endemic areas. Free educational materials are available to the public athttps://www.internationalsos.com/topics/malaria2016.
International SOS provides education and malaria prevention services to organisations and their travelling employees. Pre-travel health advice is included in International SOS membership.