A good answer has been provided by a visionary Toronto physician, Vincenzo Marcolongo. Over thirty years ago, Dr Marcolongo founded the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) for the purpose of providing assistance in dealing with these very problems. IAMAT's aim is to make competent care available to the traveller around the world (even in many very remote places) by doctors who usually speak either English or French and have had medical training in Europe or North America.
Anyone can belong to IAMAT and there is no charge for membership, although a donation is requested to help support its work. Membership brings a number of excellent traveller's medical aids:
1. Membership card. The card identifies the bearer as an IAMAT member and entitles him to services and the fixed IAMAT rates.
2. World directory. The directory of IAMAT physicians guides members to centers and participating physicians in 125 countries and territories. Telephone numbers are included. IAMAT physicians agree to a set payment schedule for members. Referrals, consultations, laboratory procedures, hospitalizations and other medical services are, of course, not subject to this fee schedule. Physicians' professional qualifications have been reviewed in light of IAMAT standards.
3. Traveller clinical record. This passport-size record is completed by one's doctor before departure. It covers patient identification, emergency medical data, glasses prescription, diagnostic summary, and immunization record, and has special sections for those with diabetes, a cardio-vascular condition, or an allergic condition. The record provides the foreign doctor with a readily accessible and complete medical history.
4. World immunization chart. The chart advises on immunizations for 200 countries and territories for cholera, viral hepatitis, plague, rabies, smallpox, typhus, typhoid fever, yellow fever, diphtheria, polio and tetanus. It also provides information on preventative measures.
5 & 6. World malaria risk chart and protection guide. With these aids, the traveller is alerted to where risk occurs, how great it is, and what steps to take before, during and after the trip. Both mechanical and pharmaceutical protection is detailed. An antimalarial drug chart includes brand names, manufacturers, generic names, dosages, and frequencies.
7 & 8. World schistosomiasis risk chart and information brochure. These publications make the traveller aware of risk areas and preventative measures to avoid this snail- borne, debilitating disease.
9. The Chagas' disease risk chart and information guide. Informs travellers to Central and South America about this widespread infection and details the risk areas and appropriate protective measure.
And to those who make a substantial donation to support IAMAT's work:
10. World climate charts. These 24 charts report on climate in every
part of the world and on seasonal clothing required, and sanitary
conditions of water, milk and food.
For example, the charts indicate:
11. IAMAT also produces a portable, free-standing mosquito bed net of classic rectangular design. It is adjustable for single or double bed size. `La Mosquette' is not only an important weapon against malaria, but will also protect against spiders, ticks, beetles, flies, roaches, assassin bugs, bed bugs and other insects. The net is sold at cost at our membership offices.
The Human Family
Why has Dr Marcolongo made the medical needs of travellers his life's work? And why do participating physicians agree to work for these low fees?
Dr Marcolongo's vision of IAMAT's work gives insight into their motivations: "When the relations of men are expressed in terms of co-operation and human endeavor, we become conscious and deeply aware that we belong to each other. With the progress of technology and the consequent increase in communications, people are no longer confined within the boundaries of their own country.
"In view of the medical aspects involved in travel, it was obvious that an active co-oper-ation among physicians throughout the world was required. Distinguished physicians and respected medical institutions, with a sense of solidarity which makes them like one family, are now working in harmony to assist the traveller who may require medical assistance in his journey.
"The international nature of travel demands closer relationship of mutual collaboration. In the era which the human family is now entering, we must overcome the barriers that still divide us. To decipher these signs of the times is to add a new dimension to one's mind. The need for peace and understanding between the peoples of the world has never been as great as now. Peace can come only with understanding, and travel is an important means of acquiring it."
IAMAT regrets to announce the death on February 2, 1988 of Dr Vincenzo Marcolongo. His dedication and generosity continue to serve as an inspiration for IAMAT's efforts to protect the health of travellers.
When emailing us please include name, address, where you are travelling to and date of departure.
PO Box 5049, Christchurch 5
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Telephone: (519) 836-0102
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Telephone: (716) 754-4883.
MASTA - Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad
Travlang - Foreign Languages for Travelers plus sites on travel.
TMVC - Travelers Medical & Vaccination Centre with information for travelers, travel merchandise and travel clinincs in NZ and Australia.
YHA - Youth Hostel New Zealand for information on international travel and accomodation.
Travelmed.com - Travel Advice and Merchandise
ISTM.org - International Society of Travel Medicine