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Helping avoid holiday health horror

Claudia Doman

22 January 2014: Overseas travellers could avoid hefty medical bills and the ruin of long awaited holidays by seeking travel health advice from their pharmacist before leaving home, according to a University of Canberra research project.

PhD student Dr Moses Mutie is looking for participants to take part in a study which will investigate what pharmacists can do, in collaboration with GPs, to prepare people travelling overseas with information on how to look after themselves, enjoy a safe journey and return in good health.

According to Dr Mutie, previous research has shown that only an average of 30 per cent of travellers seek travel health care before their trip while half of all international travellers get sick enough to see a doctor for a travel-related problem when overseas or soon after they return.

"People who seek pre-travel health care are better equipped with information on what to do to avoid illness while overseas, like for example traveller's diarrhoea," Dr Mutie said.

"Diarrhoea affects about 50 per cent of all international travellers. Although it's a minor ailment, it can disrupt a busy schedule or ruin a long-planned holiday by having to stay in bed, nursing a travel-related stomach upset. Vaccine preventable diseases are also a major concern. But both could be minimised or avoided through pre-travel health information."


Dr Moses Mutie. Photo: Michelle McAulay

Dr Mutie said pharmacists are in a good position to help with such advice.

"With pharmacies operating in shopping malls, local shopping centres and being open for extended periods of time, including weekends, they are a really convenient way to get unique travel health services, such as checking how to manage medications while travelling, how to store them, when to take them or stop taking them."

Dr Mutie is looking for people over 18 years of age, travelling overseas, who are taking medication for a diagnosed medical condition in a first instance, with the potential of expanding the scope of the study in the future.

Through this study, people travelling overseas will receive free of charge travel health advice by a trained pharmacist.

"It would be a useful service for last minute travellers, people travelling with medications, people with disabilities or just anyone who needs practical information on what to do to avoid illness while overseas," Dr Mutie said.

To take part in the study contact Dr Mutie.