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Pre-travel health advice guidelines for humanitarian workers: A systematic review.
Travel Med Infect Dis. 2015 Nov-Dec; 13(6):449-65.TM

Abstract

BACKGROUND

In the last decades, there have been several natural disasters and global catastrophies with a steady increase in humanitarian relief work. This has resulted in increased research in the field of humanitarian aid, however the focus is mostly on the victims of the disasters and not on the individuals and organisations providing aid.

OBJECTIVES

The intent of this research is to review the information available on pre-deployment interventions and recommendations such as vaccinations and other health preserving measures in volunteers and professionals deploying abroad in humanitarian relief missions.

METHODS

We performed a systematic literature review of papers written in English, French, Italian or German. We searched the following databases: Cochrane, PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE and also hand searched reference lists. The cut-off date for the publication search was November 20th, 2014. In addition to the literature search we also sent a questionnaire to 30 organisations to detail their approach to preparing relief workers.

RESULTS

We identified 163 papers of possible relevance and finally included 35 papers in the systematic review. Six organisations provided information on pre-deployment preparation of aid workers. Identified papers show that pre-deployment physical and mental fitness are paramount for success in humanitarian missions. However, in many settings, pre-travel medical and psychological assessments and/or training/education sessions are not mandatory. We identified high-risk hazards for aid workers (often location specific), these included: travellers׳ diarrhoea, vector-borne infections, accidents, violence, tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, typhoid fever, seasonal and H1N1 influenza.

CONCLUSIONS

The medical evaluation can identify problems or risk factors, such as psychological frailty, that can be exacerbated by the stressful settings of humanitarian missions. In this pre-travel setting, the status of routine vaccinations can be controlled and completed, medication dispensed and targeted preventive advice provided. A mission specific first-aid kit can be recommended. There is a lack of evidence-based literature on the theme of pre-travel advice guidelines for humanitarian workers. We propose a shared database of literature on this topic as a resource and suggest that some standardization of guidelines would be useful for future planning.

Authors+Show Affiliations

University of Zurich Centre for Travel Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Travelers׳ Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, Zürich, Switzerland.Swiss Academy of Military and Disaster Medicine (SAMD), Ittingen, Switzerland.University of Zurich Centre for Travel Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Travelers׳ Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, Zürich, Switzerland; Swiss Academy of Military and Disaster Medicine (SAMD), Ittingen, Switzerland.University of Zurich Centre for Travel Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Travelers׳ Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, Zürich, Switzerland; Swiss Academy of Military and Disaster Medicine (SAMD), Ittingen, Switzerland.University of Zurich Centre for Travel Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Travelers׳ Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, Zürich, Switzerland.University of Zurich Centre for Travel Medicine, WHO Collaborating Centre for Travelers׳ Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, Zürich, Switzerland; Swiss Academy of Military and Disaster Medicine (SAMD), Ittingen, Switzerland. Electronic address: patricia.schlagenhauf@uzh.ch.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Review
Systematic Review

Language

eng

PubMed ID

26701861

Citation

Costa, Marco, et al. "Pre-travel Health Advice Guidelines for Humanitarian Workers: a Systematic Review." Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, vol. 13, no. 6, 2015, pp. 449-65.
Costa M, Oberholzer-Riss M, Hatz C, et al. Pre-travel health advice guidelines for humanitarian workers: A systematic review. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2015;13(6):449-65.
Costa, M., Oberholzer-Riss, M., Hatz, C., Steffen, R., Puhan, M., & Schlagenhauf, P. (2015). Pre-travel health advice guidelines for humanitarian workers: A systematic review. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 13(6), 449-65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2015.11.006
Costa M, et al. Pre-travel Health Advice Guidelines for Humanitarian Workers: a Systematic Review. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2015 Nov-Dec;13(6):449-65. PubMed PMID: 26701861.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Pre-travel health advice guidelines for humanitarian workers: A systematic review. AU - Costa,Marco, AU - Oberholzer-Riss,Martin, AU - Hatz,Christoph, AU - Steffen,Robert, AU - Puhan,Milo, AU - Schlagenhauf,Patricia, PY - 2015/11/03/received PY - 2015/11/13/revised PY - 2015/11/13/accepted PY - 2015/12/25/entrez PY - 2015/12/25/pubmed PY - 2016/9/20/medline SP - 449 EP - 65 JF - Travel medicine and infectious disease JO - Travel Med Infect Dis VL - 13 IS - 6 N2 - BACKGROUND: In the last decades, there have been several natural disasters and global catastrophies with a steady increase in humanitarian relief work. This has resulted in increased research in the field of humanitarian aid, however the focus is mostly on the victims of the disasters and not on the individuals and organisations providing aid. OBJECTIVES: The intent of this research is to review the information available on pre-deployment interventions and recommendations such as vaccinations and other health preserving measures in volunteers and professionals deploying abroad in humanitarian relief missions. METHODS: We performed a systematic literature review of papers written in English, French, Italian or German. We searched the following databases: Cochrane, PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE and also hand searched reference lists. The cut-off date for the publication search was November 20th, 2014. In addition to the literature search we also sent a questionnaire to 30 organisations to detail their approach to preparing relief workers. RESULTS: We identified 163 papers of possible relevance and finally included 35 papers in the systematic review. Six organisations provided information on pre-deployment preparation of aid workers. Identified papers show that pre-deployment physical and mental fitness are paramount for success in humanitarian missions. However, in many settings, pre-travel medical and psychological assessments and/or training/education sessions are not mandatory. We identified high-risk hazards for aid workers (often location specific), these included: travellers׳ diarrhoea, vector-borne infections, accidents, violence, tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, typhoid fever, seasonal and H1N1 influenza. CONCLUSIONS: The medical evaluation can identify problems or risk factors, such as psychological frailty, that can be exacerbated by the stressful settings of humanitarian missions. In this pre-travel setting, the status of routine vaccinations can be controlled and completed, medication dispensed and targeted preventive advice provided. A mission specific first-aid kit can be recommended. There is a lack of evidence-based literature on the theme of pre-travel advice guidelines for humanitarian workers. We propose a shared database of literature on this topic as a resource and suggest that some standardization of guidelines would be useful for future planning. SN - 1873-0442 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/26701861/full_citation L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1477-8939(15)00180-5 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -