Advice for healthcare and humanitarian workers
Healthcare and humanitarian professionals face countless risks in their everyday work, but when their work involves travel the risks are greater than ever. It’s vitally important to protect yourself so your important work isn’t compromised.
The stress and pressure of travel – often to remote and dangeous places – the administrative responsibilities, jet lag, heat and humidity, insects, change in diet and all sorts of other external factors can lead to dangerous slip-ups.
Here are our top tips for staying safe and healthy during your time overseas, and while you’re in transit.
Up to date travel vaccinations
Make sure you’re up-to-date with all your routine childhood vaccinations and get any country-specific travel vaccinations you need before you go.
Your occupational risk factors as a health care worker, the fact that you may work in a remote area and how long you stay all have a bearing. You might need vaccinations against diseases like hepatitis B and rabies.
Pre-travel tips for healthcare workers
- See your doctor for a full check-up, making sure you’re 100% fit for the demands of the journey
- Get prescription renewals for all the medications you usually take
- Visit one of our Travel Clinics in London for advice on the travel vaccinations and medications you’ll need for your destination or destinations
- See your dentist for a check-up
- Don’t leave home without a personal first-aid kit, copies of your passport, medical license, any visas plus a doctor’s letter describing why you need the medicines you’re taking with you
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers to help protect against insect bites
- Don’t forget your mosquito net – nets save lives
Tips to stay safe while on assignment
- Slip, trip and fall accidents happen more often in an unfamiliar environment. Take great care and get to know your surroundings in detail as soon as possible
- Close contact and regular exposure to infected patients calls for extra caution and full protection, often including covering your face. Take the advice of the experts on site
- If you are providing aid, for example disaster relief, the dangers to your personal health and safety are increased. Local medical facilities might be inadequate or non-existent, so bear this in mind before you go, be aware of the risks up front and draft an emergency plan beforehand, to follow if something goes wrong
- Make yourself familiar with the symptoms of any diseases that are common in the area you’ll be working, so you can recognise the signs if you catch something nasty
- If you believe you’re infected, either through contact with a patient or an insect bite, tell your immediate supervisor or the person who’s tasked with handling such things as soon as possible
- Remember that, no matter how much you want to help, you can only pose a danger to the people you treat if you’re ill yourself
Exercising common sense… with our help
We’ve covered travel hygiene in some detail on this site, plus common sense advice about avoiding various diseases. Feel free to explore.
If you need more support as a first-time healthcare or humanitarian worker, our travel health experts are on hand to make sure you know how to stay safe as well as providing the vaccinations you need.