Here is a simple how-to guide for ensuring your employees are prepared for any health issues that may arise during their business travel.
Step 1: Research the destinations your staff travel to for business
The Australian Government's Smarttraveller website provides destination-specific travel advice, which is regularly updated. This is a great place to find information on current health issues around the country.
You can also subscribe to notifications for the countries your company travels to regularly to keep updated on any health issues that may arise.
Thorough background research of destination countries should involve the health care situation and agreements they may have with Australia. Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with a few countries, including the United Kingdom and New Zealand. If your employee needs urgent or emergency medical treatment when travelling in these countries they will be provided with the appropriate care.
Step 2: Check what vaccinations are needed
Certain countries require that the traveller has received vaccinations before they are allowed to enter the country. This information should be part of your background research and you will need to ensure the employee has adequate time to go to a travel doctor and receive the required vaccines.
Apart from vaccines, staff should be aware of other health risks such as influenza or infectious diseases that may be present in the region. For more information on these risks, consult your travel doctor.
Smarttraveller.gov.au recommends a basic health check up for travellers at least eight weeks before they depart.
Step 3: Brief your staff
Employees should be well-equipped to deal with any health situation that may arise while they are on a business trip. Is there a company policy that outlines what action they should take if something happens to their health while they are travelling. For example:
- Do they need to be vaccinated? Are they comfortable with this treatment?
- If they need medical treatment while overseas what hospital or general practitioner should they go to?
- If there is a serious issue while they are travelling where are the nearest embassies?
- What will they need to provide for insurance purposes?
Step 4: Inform your staff about the risks involved with travelling with medications
Medication that is legal in Australia may not be in other countries, and if they have any concerns they should contact the relevant country embassy. If your employee will need to take any medication with them it is important to discuss this with their doctor, keep the medication in the original packaging,and carry a letter from the doctor stating what it is, the dosage and that it is for personal use.
It is important to brief them on this issue as there can be serious repercussions to carrying the wrong medication.
Step 5: Make sure your travel insurance plan covers unexpected health risks
Check your travel insurance plan covers the risks associated with the countries your employees are travelling to, and will cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation if required.