What should people do if they become sick or suffer an injury whilst working, holidaying or travelling overseas?
When you are far from home and your trusted medical service providers, it can be a daunting experience finding help abroad.
There are many challenges, including language barriers, the reputation and levels of service provided by different vendors and the costs associated with treatment.
Every nation across the globe has different standards, costs and availability of healthcare which can make it challenging for tourists to find help when they most help.
That is where the International Assistance Grouplooks to assist, connecting travellers to a global network of high-quality assistance companies and qualified and vetted service providers.
These partnerships are helping travellers stay safe while also enabling assistance service providers greater global scope to help those in need - which is becoming essential in an era of massive international travel.
Ouraim is to close the gap between medical service providers across the globe and international travellers, getting services to where they are needed and removing the anxiety out of falling ill or becoming injured abroad.
And as global trends are showing, this connection between service providers and travellers is becoming more and more essential - especially across Asian nations.
Global tourism is on the rise
The volume of people taking to the skies and travelling internationally for business or leisure has grown dramatically in recent years.
Improved technology, lower travel prices, a globalised business world and a range of other factors are prompting people from all over the world to travel internationally more and more each year.
In 1990, there were 435 million international visits across the globe, a number that spiked to 1.4 billion in 2018 and is expected to keep rapidly rising in the near future.
According to the World Tourism Organisation, Asian nations including the likes of China (61 million visitors annually) and Thailand (36 million visitors) are some of the most popular destinations in the world for international travellers.
Asian residents are also the most likely to travel internationally, in their own region or outside, with 143 million Chinese tourists hitting the skies in 2017 alone.
With so many more people travelling to and from Asian countries, this means that there is going to be an ever-growing demand for medical services for travellers in the future.
Sickness and injuries abroad are more common than you think
While the risk of illness or injury changes depending on where you visit and the physical condition and behaviours of the individual concerned, data has shown that around eight per cent of all international travellers will require medical assistance.
On top of that, around all international travellers have around a fifty per cent chance of suffering a travel-related illness, which includes minor ailments all the way up to severe sicknesses that will require hospitalisation and could be life-threatening.
Visitors to south-east Asia are 1.6 times more likely to suffer an injury-related death or drowning than visitors to the United States, for example.
Each region has its own medical challenges as well, with visitors to India 18 times more likely to contract typhoid fever while other nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan have yet to completely eradicate polio.
Creating the link between travellers and medical service providers is critical for rapid response times, trusted and reliable care and affordable outcomes for all international visitors.
And medical service providers can rely on this link to be connected to where their services are needed most in a rapid timeframe.
How you can prepare to prevent illness while travelling?
Like most things, the best cure for illness on the road is proper preparation and preventative measures. Here are our tips for pre-travel prep that will give you the best possible chance of resisting sickness on your travels:
Get a pre-travel medical: Sometimes, we can feel perfectly healthy, but there are underlying medical issues beneath the surface that can present themselves when we are on the road. Book an appointment with your doctor to get a full medical before departure, so you aren't shocked with illness down the track.
Get your needles: Ensure all of your vaccinations and immunisations are up to date and also speak to your doctor about other preventative needles that may be required for specific regions you are travelling to.
Pack a basic first-aid kit: While we know that not every traveller has space or capacity to include a fullblown first aid kit in their bag at all times, you should have the basics available to you. This kit should include bandages and dressing, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors, antihistamines, sunburn treatment, insect repellent and bite treatment and any medications that you may require.
While you are travelling, though, there are also many measures you can take to prevent falling sick on your travels, including:
Eating and drinking correctly: Gastrointestinal diseases are the most common travel-related illnesses, and they can really put the brakes your holiday or business trip in a hurry. These are usually contracted from poorly prepared foods or tainted water supplies, so ensure you only drink bottled water, avoid ice in drinks, avoid any foods washed by the local water source and that all food is prepared fresh, cooked thoroughly and served hot. It is best to resist the temptation of street vendors and shellfish as well, as these as common sources of gastro diseases.
Prepare against insect bites: Insects like mosquitos can transmit a range of different diseases, including malaria, Zika, yellow fever and dengue, which an have a serious impact on your health. Always wear insect repellent and ensure that your immunisations are up to date.
Pack protection: You may not be planning to be amourous on your trip, but these things have a way of just happening. There are higher rates of HIV and STIs in other countries around the world - particularly in southeast Asia and Africa. Always ensure you are practising safe sex using condoms.
How the International Assistance Group is bridging the gap between tourists and healthcare providers
For over 27 years, the International Assistance Group has successfully brought together independent international medical assistance companies into a cohesive, working alliance of partners to assist business and leisure travellers, expatriate workers and corporate clients around the world.
During this time, the International Assistance Group's operations have grown to now reach over 118 million end-users in nations across the world, including assisting Asian tourists and global tourists in Asian nations.
The International Assistance Group has connected our partner organisations to 5.6 million international medical cases, including:
1.7 million roadside assistance cases
Over 470,000 travel cases
Over 620,000 medical cases and;
Flying over 20,500 people back home when they are injured or unwell
With a global staff of over 7500 people, the International Assistance Group has been able to arrange referrals and guarantee of payments, inpatient and outpatient cases and medical transfers on commercial airlines up to complex, dedicated air ambulances.
"Our goal has always been to be able to provide the peace of mind of 24/7 assistance from quality service providers to tourists in trouble - no matter where they may be," International Assistance Group's General Manager, Louise Heywood said.
"This takes the guesswork out of health and other forms of assistance for customers who know they will be connected to reputable, well-credentialled providers that have been thoroughly vetted for quality assurance.
"And for service providers, the International Assistance Group presents an opportunity to expand their services into other countries, grow their business and rely on us to connect them to where their services are most needed."
The connection between medical service providers and end-users means greater time and cost efficiencies so those who need help can get it fast and partners have more streamlined operations without time wasted in peripheral or overlapping areas.
The International Assistance Group already has a strong presence in Asia, with core partners including AA International in Indonesia and Taiwan,Bharti Assist Global in India,Cover-More Assistance Online and HealthLink Services in China, WellBe in Hong Kong.
These partner companies access the International Assistance Group's operational database Globus - which has been developed over the last 15 years with significant input from the increasing number of users with regular improvements implemented.
This allows for rapid identification of contacts and resources and the necessary processes to reduce stumbling blocks and errors - speeding up operational delivery and the often-overlooked needs of administrators.
The connection between service providers and international travels stricken by sickness or injury has provided mutual benefits to both parties for over two decades, and now your enterprise can join the network in the Asian region to provide greater scope for assistance and more streamlined operations.
To learn more about International Assistance Group and their operations, visit www.internationalassistance-group.com
Author bio: Josh Alston is the Communications Manager for Ionyx, a global software solutions company based in Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from James Cook University and has worked extensively for media organisations across Australia for over 15 years as well as content production, marketing and social media management for a range of companies.