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Monday, February 23, 2015

Where NOT to fall ill abroad: International Health Risk Map outlines world's safest and most dangerous places for health care

A map of the riskiest destinations for contracting an illness or being involved in an accident has been published by health organisation International SOS.
The Health Risk Map 2015 ranks destinations in five categories, in order to help companies and travellers understand the risks they face in different countries when getting medical treatment.
Categories include low risk, medium risk, high risk and extreme risk, with another category for large, rapidly developing countries.

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While Europe, North America and Australia are understandably among the countries offering the highest levels of medical care, there are some popular holiday destinations where travellers are at risk.
Mexico, Turkey, Morocco and Thailand are among the holiday hotspots declared as 'medium risk' on the map, with some risk of diseases and emergency medical care described as 'adequate'. 
However, holidaymakers are recommended to search out quality medical providers and informed that in some severe cases they may need to be evacuated to another country. 


HOW TO READ THE HEALTH RISK MAP 

The key to the map is a colour-coded chart showing the quality of medical healthcare available and the options available to travellers:
BROWN
Large rapidly developing countries
Selected group of large rapidly developing countries where there is a vast difference between the high quality medical care available in major cities and low levels of care generally available throughout the rest of the country.
Medical assistance: In major cities: Selection of quality providers. Evacuation sometimes required. Elsewhere: Selection of best care available. Case monitoring. Transfer to a higher quality facility. Moderate and sever illness/injury may require evacuations
GREEN 
Low risk
International standard of care throughout. All tertiary-level, specialist and sub-specialist care widely available. High-quality emergency and dental services and a wide range of quality prescription drugs available. Low risk of infecyious diseases
Medical assistance: Medical referral. Assistance with language and cultural differences. Payment. Evacuation rarely required
YELLOW 
Medium risk
High or international standard available from selected providers; other providers offer a lower standard of care. Adequate emergency services and dental care usually available. Some risk of water-borne diseases. Diseases such as malaria and dengue fever may be present.
Medical assistance: Selection of quality providers. Case monitoring. Sever illness/injury may require evacuations.
ORANGE 
High risk
Countries with limited medical capabilities. Emergency services and dental care may be basic. Access to quality prescription drugs may be limited and, in some cases, counterfeiting and/or improper storage of drugs is an issue. Serious infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dengue fever and malaria may pose a threat.
Medical assistance: Selection of best care available Case monitoring. Transfer to a higher quality facility. Any condition requiring hospitalisation may require international evacuation.
RED 
Extreme risk
Countries where healthcare is almost non-existent or severely over-taxed. There may be no emergency or dental services, Quality prescription drugs are usually not available. There is a high risk of food or water-borne infections. Serious infectious diseases such as dengue, malaria, typhoid and cholera are common.
Medical assistance: Selection of best care available. Case monitoring. Transfer to a higher quality facility. All but minor health issues may require international evacuation.
High-risk countries that are favourite holiday destinations include Tanzania, Egypt, Laos and Cambodia, with tourists recommended to transfer to a high-quality facility if they are taken ill and warned that any hospitalisation may result in an international evacuation.
Countries deemed high risk have limited medical capabilities and access to prescription drugs, and have a risk of serious infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid or dengue fever. 
The most crisis-hit countries include many African nations as well as Afghanistan and North Korea as well as areas that have been affected by natural disasters in recent years such as Haiti.

International SOS assessed the assessed various factors including the quality of medical and dental care, access to prescription drugs, prevalence of infectious diseases and cultural, administrative and language barriers.
According to the map, the low-risk countries, with high-quality emergency health and dental care, a range of prescription drugs available and low risk of infectious disease include the US, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, the UK, Spain, France and the rest of western Europe.
However, the overall level of healthcare offered in countries around the world reiterates the importance of travel insurance. 
For tourists who fall ill or are injured in countries where it is recommended they seek the highest-quality healthcare centres for treatment, medical costs can soon soar. However, with health insurers, worried holidaymakers can contact emergency helplines to find the best available medical centre available to them as part of their policy.

A new category was included on the map this year to highlight the disparity of care available in 'large rapidly developing countries', such as China, Brazil and Russia, where access to quality healthcare differs hugely between cities and more rural outposts.
Doug Quarry, Medical Director, Medical Information and Analysis at International SOS said: 'Recent International SOS data shows that over 40 per cent of our medical cases occur in countries classed as 'High' or 'Extreme' risk. 
'This is a significant increase from less than 25 per cent in 2010. Preparation of travellers, including a risk assessment, education and health check programme for staff, will reduce the need for intervention after travel.

'This is especially important for people travelling to high and extreme risk countries. Health Risk Map 2015 is just one of the many tools that can help organisations plan and prepare for operations around the world.' 
International SOS works as a health security risk services company and has 53 clinics worldwide, 40 of which operate in areas where there are gaps in quality of medical care.