MedAire (Booth 739), an International SOS company, announced the launch of HealthMap 2013 during EBACE here this week. HealthMap, a four-year-old project, is a tool that can help companies with traveling employees understand the medical risks in the markets where they operate. Understanding risk is key to managing health threats to employees, passengers and crew, according to MedAire.
“The higher the country’s medical risk, the more preparation is required,” said Dr. Paulo Alves, vice president of aviation and maritime health at MedAire. “Evaluation of that risk includes understanding the quality of local medical services, disease risks, vaccination requirements, food and water precautions and how to best manage your chronic conditions.” Medical risk ratings provide an overview of the threats of infectious disease, hygiene and sanitation, accidents and the availability and quality of the local health infrastructure.
HealthMap indicates risk by low, medium, medium-to-high, high and extreme categories. International SOS analyzed the comings and goings of more than 4.6 million travelers to 223 countries with its TravelTracker platform and discovered that in 2012, 23 percent of business travelers went to countries with medium-to-high, high and extreme health-related risks.
Data from 2012 shows that Brazil, Russia, India and China travel falls into the medium- to high-risk category because there is a disparity in the medical risks and health care available between major cities and rural areas.
A recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine indicated that expatriates living and working in a high medical risk country are six times more likely to be hospitalized and 23 times more likely to be medically evacuated than those in a low medical risk country. The study also reveals that in high medical risk countries, nearly half of people hospitalized for any reason will require medical evacuation. In extreme risk countries, this risk increases to 79 percent.
Country medical risk ratings systems such as HealthMap can help companies implement risk-mitigation programs that might include pre-travel screening that can identify and treat conditions such as cardiac or gastro-intestinal illnesses, focused health training and the provision of on-site medical services.