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Traveler’s Health: Importance of Pre-travel Health Consultation

Pre-travel consultation is a great opportunity for addressing health concerns of traveling, imposing adequate preparation and preventive measures. The main objectives of pre-travel health checks are to be able to assess the traveler’s trip plans and identify potential health hazards; to provide adequate education to travelers about anticipated risk and preventive measures; for travelers to undergo immunizations as necessary to prevent diseases and take prophylactic medications, initiate self-treatment or both; and provides empowerment for travelers in managing their own health during the trip through health advice and counseling. The two factors that can determine the outcome of pre-travel consultation are the health provider’s expertise and communication skills and the traveler’s health beliefs.

For a successful pre-travel consultation, the health advisor should have familiarity about the traveler’s destination, its infrastructure, culture and disease patterns. Healthcare advisors who are involved in pre-travel checks must have a detailed knowledge of travel medicine and must be familiar with the traveler’s medical history. A travel medicine specialist is highly knowledgeable about immunizations, risks associated with particular destinations, and health implications of traveling underlying conditions. What are the components of pre-travel checks? Pre-travel checks must be incorporated with the traveler’s travel purpose, itinerary, trip duration, and activities, all that can determine health risks. The important information needed for pre-travel risk assessment include past medical history, special conditions, immunization history, prior travel experience, itinerary, the season for travel, the reason for travel, travel style, and special activities.

It is a must to undergo pre-travel consultation for you to be given an expert and personalized advice on travel risks and exposures, a written information of the things you should be careful and aware of, and you’ll be reminded of ubiquitous risks such as injury, respiratory tract infections, bloodborne infections, waterborne infections, foodborne infections, and sexually transmitted infections. It is crucial that you are equipped with the right, knowledge, and attitude to do self-treatment especially if you are traveling to a place that has limited medical facilities or remote areas without the presence of any healthcare provider. The most common health conditions affecting travelers are traveler’s diarrhea, altitude illness, jet lag, motion sickness, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, skin conditions, vaginal yeast infections, occupational exposure to HIV and malaria. It is important for travelers to carry a travel first-aid kit with them that includes prescription and nonprescription medications.

The vaccines you need to consider during pre-travel consultation include hepatitis B, HPV, influenza, MMR, meningococcal, pneumococcal, rotavirus, DPT, and varicella zoster. Travel vaccines include cholera vaccine, hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis vaccine, rabies, tickborne encephalitis, typhoid and yellow fever vaccine. In a pre-travel consultation, the major topics for discussion include immunizations, altitude illness, environmental hazards, personal safety, respiratory illnesses, vector-borne diseases, malaria chemoprophylaxis, traveler’s diarrhea, sexual health and bloodborne pathogens, and disease-specific counseling.

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