For many of us who travel, we don’t want to have our plans derailed by health issues, whether they be due to an existing, but manageable, medical condition or just by the inescapable fact that none of us are as young as we used to be.
So, first and foremost, we need to be sure that we have the appropriate health insurance. And that doesn’t just apply to the older traveller. Any vacationer of any age should consider health insurance as essential as their passport or airline ticket.
Insurance aside, however, travelling with a bit of health-specific knowledge and assurance in your pocket can help give you the peace of mind that can make your holiday that much more enjoyable.
One excellent and to easy-to-access source of this is IAMAT, an organization that has been dedicated to keeping travellers healthy for more than 50 years. IAMAT is a non-profit organization (registered in Canada and the US). It was founded in 1960 by the late Dr. Vincenzo Marcolongo, an Italian physician who interned in Canada.
Today, from its Toronto headquarters, IAMAT offers a number of online and other resources that helps travellers to plan a healthy trip, prevent potential health problems and even connects them with reputable English-speaking doctors around the world.
“We can help you plan a healthy trip and travel with some peace of mind,” says Tullia Marcolongo, Executive Director of IAMAT and daughter of the founder. “In addition to providing information on health risks and resources, we maintain a directory of IAMAT-veted general practitioners who can provide services in English. In cases where there aren’t any doctors in our directory, if you let us know where you are travelling to, we will try and find one for you.”
Among the many useful resources available are fact sheets on various diseases travellers may encounter, information on vaccines, a travel health planner and a series of excellent guides, including travelling with medications, health insurance and healthy travelling for seniors, among others.
“In addition to the development of these resources, donor support also helps us fulfill one of our key mandates, supporting research and education in travel health,” Marcolongo adds. “Among the projects underway is research into how travel insurance companies cover or otherwise handle mental health related issues.”
Access to IAMAT’s resources requires a membership (full disclosure: I am a member). However, membership is free for the first year. Renewal requires a donation, as this is a primary source of the organization’s funding. Non-donor members get access to all country-specific health risk information and resources, including the ‘Travel with Medications’ guide and ‘Travel Health Planner’. Donor members can also access the medical directory, ‘Guide to Healthy Travel’, and ‘Guide to Travel Health Insurance’. Full details are available on the recently updated IAMAT website.
For more information, visit IAMAT.org