It’s the beginning of a New Year and often thoughts of both ourselves as well as our patients start to focus on planning holidays for the year ahead. Travel abroad is sometimes considered and of course there are a plethora of websites and retail outlets available, to help us choose our dream holiday at the price we are prepared to pay.
Once that foreign holiday is purchased, there are other things to think about when considering travelling outside the UK. These include health issues such as vaccinations which may be needed as well as ever changing political and security matters. There are many online resources available to look at these topics and I want to look at a small but important selection of these resources, a little further.
One excellent portal worth visiting is the very helpful NaTHNaC (National Travel Health Network and Centre). It has an impressive pedigree being commissioned by Public Health England and is hosted by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. There is also an association with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as the Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
There is excellent content here and having these impressive associations does generate a good degree of trust that the information available is reputable and trustworthy. There are a number of services available but one in particular will be of specific interest to GPs and their nursing staff that deal with travel health. That is https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/ which is available directly in its own right and is a general all round medical portal, ideal for a primary health care or health travel team needing timely, reliable and regularly updated travel and vaccination information and advice.
There is a lot of information here and the home page is brimming with relevant data but it is well laid out. The site is open and accessible, and no registration is needed (as with all the sites mentioned in this article) which means that this site is freely available to the general public as well.
I suspect a popular attraction will be the A-Z country listing of fact sheets where customised travel health related information can be located for individual countries. The individual country information file can be downloaded as a PDF which can be easily stored or printed out. If a health professional is still unclear about a travel related health issue, there is a telephone advice line, via an 0845 number.
The top menu in the home page is also helpful with latest news, outbreak surveillance and diseases in brief amongst other topics covered. At the very bottom of the home page (this is easy to miss) there are also useful links to other areas in the website. One of these links takes you to useful sites and unleashed here are a selection of great resources both within the travelhealthpro site internally as well as externally.
One of these external websites is the UK based Foreign and Commonwealth office website. Click on “travel advice” on the top right corner and this takes you to the excellent https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice which is individual travel advice for 225 countries or territories. This is more political, security and safety orientated though there is some health advice for each of the countries mentioned. There is a link back to https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries from the Foreign Office country site and these two UK orientated websites neatly combine to produce a powerful resource, ideal for the general public as well as a healthcare professional wanting to find trusted and respected foreign travel advice.
So far, I have mentioned UK based sites, simply because that is more relevant to our practice when you are based in this country. However, there are excellent foreign based sites which can be useful as well. For example, there is https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ which is part of the larger CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) website which is a respected American governmental health protection organisation. The main page is divided into a section for healthcare professionals and travelers and there is a large volume of material including travel destinations. Of course, all this material is seen through an American perspective but it is neatly laid out and may provide a UK based tourist or healthcare provider with more information.
Finally, another excellent global travel health website from the highly respected World Health Organisation and this is another gateway to a huge volume of information and data.
If you have a travel health problem needing solved, it is likely that you will find an answer on line from a reliable resource. If not, there is a UK telephone advice line for healthcare professionals.