In light of recent events, the health and safety of travel is something we can all consider. In particular, how can we minimise the risks involved in global travel? Individuals or groups may travel for business or educational purposes, through institutions and organisations, to work on global health issues or for other purposes.
Whatever the intentions are, there are three key areas in which we have learned more about, but we should still seek to improve our understanding to keep health and safety a key focus in travel.
1. Hazards and Risks are Involved in All Kinds of Travel
The main thing we can all agree on is that no matter the destination, there will always be hazards and risks involved in travel. That is not to say we should feel constant fear and anxiety, however, being aware of the risks and hazards is the first step to being prepared to deal with them should they be encountered. Whilst ignorance may be bliss, assessing the risks helps us to form an action plan.
Potential hazards could include unwanted attention, petty thievery, disease or viral outbreaks, conflict, targeted violent attacks, armed robbery, terrorism and natural disasters. Some countries or occupations can be considered more high-risk, and this can be determined and accounted for before travel.
Before any travel, complete risk assessments and ensure you have sufficient strategies in place, and that there will be the necessary security and support that you may require. There are risks to not only your physical health but also mental health, so assessing the risks will help you prepare for this.
2. Institutions Should Provide Sufficient Training and Resources
Travelling through organisations and institutions may allow us to feel protected through our trust in said groups, but without their provision of sufficient resources and training, this could be a false sense of security.
It is important that programs provide full support and prepare individuals for the travel process and can correctly prepare them with knowledge and training as necessary. Individuals and groups, especially those working in global health, should know what to expect and be trained sufficiently to handle situations they are likely to encounter.
Correct protocols should be in place to protect groups and individuals. Staff should be sufficiently trained and equipped to handle different situations and deal with problems they may face.
3. Always Take Individual Responsibility
Whilst relying on the support of others is useful, there is plenty of responsibility we have as individuals to stay safe when travelling.
You should know the importance of visiting a travel doctor to ensure you are fully immunised and protected against deadly viruses and diseases – especially if you are travelling to a high-risk area or working as a medical aid or volunteer. You should check government advice with regards to current affairs and be aware of travel warnings in case of unstable governments, civil wars, disease outbreaks or environmental and weather warnings.
· Do you have sufficient insurance?
· Do you have enough contacts and know who you can go to for immediate advice and support?
· Do you know what to expect, what threats you might face, and do you feel that you are fully prepared to deal with the things you could encounter?
If the answer is ‘no’, then can your travel plans be postponed? Your personal safety is the most important thing, so value yourself more and don’t take any unnecessary risks.
Health and safety are always important and should never be taken lightly. Actions must be taken to ensure the safety of travellers with respect to global health. We should all take responsibility for ourselves and for others, so think about what we have learned already, but also think, what else can we do?