Did you know that there are approximately 600 million international travelers with around 80 million traveling annually from developed to developing countries? Such a large number, along with the increasing reach and coverage of the transportation industry, led to the founding and establishment of travel medicine, or emporiatrics, a branch of medicine that focuses on the prevention and management of diseases for international travelers, especially those who venture to tropical countries.
Vaccinations: First Line of Defense
Take note that traveling to rural areas or developing countries carry specific health risks that you need to research and ask about when you set an appointment with healthcare centers, such as U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, which offer travel medicine services. Such health agencies have physicians who provide pre-travel consultation and vaccine recommendations based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) standards to protect your health and reduce your risk of acquiring infectious, preventable diseases, such as measles, polio, yellow fever, chicken pox, and others. Vaccinations are usually given 4-6 weeks before international travel.
Travel First Aid Kit: The Second Stronghold
After your vaccinations for travel, another important preparatory step to take is preparing the perfect travel first aid kit that includes the basic medical necessities and a few “just-in-case” extras. Here are some tips for you to consider:
Stock up on the essentials.
Essential items in a first aid kit are a must and include strip bandages (preferable in various sizes), gauze pads (4 inches x 4 inches) for medium to large size wounds, medical adhesive tape to secure the gauze pads or bandages, small scissors for cutting gauze or bandages, tweezers for taking out foreign debris or removing splinters, and painkillers to be taken as necessary.
Use a high-quality, durable container.
Since your bags might get thrown around the luggage compartment of airplanes, ships, or buses and you’ll be rolling them over bumpy ground or uneven floors, ensure that your travel first aid kit is in a tough, hard-plastic, compartmentalized container (e.g. a small fishing tackle or tool box). Avoid using cloth or plastic bags that don’t provide a strong shield for your medical supplies.
Add a few medication extras.
Depending on your health condition and personal needs, you may want to add other handy items to your first aid kit. If you’re visiting a developing country where you might catch a stomach bug, oral rehydration salts or rehydration solutions and anti-diarrhea tablets need to be on hand. Anti-itch cream, antibiotic ointment, cold relief capsules, motion sickness tablets, and allergy medications may also be added to your travel first aid kit.
Traveler’s Health-Pack Smart, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
How to Assemble the Perfect Travel First Aid Kit, IAMAT.org