Introduction

Some of the points raised in these notes and in other publications make overseas travel sound incredibly hazardous. Don’t be put off. Most people return happy and healthy and you are likely to do so if you have taken the necessary precautions.

You also need to get accurate information on overseas health matters. This will vary according to your destination.

ACBM Local Area Guidelines (where available) may assist in this regard. You should discuss this with your contact brother.


Pack a medical kit

Minor ailments can be effectively treated with a few simple medical items. Items to include are Betadine antiseptic cream, Band-Aids, painkillers (i.e. aspirin or paracetamol), factor 30+ sunburn cream, Gastrolyte (rehydration treatment), insect repellent and tea tree oil (soothes bites). It is also recommended that you carry a pack of sterilised syringes, needles and surgical gloves as well as some Antibiotic Tablets (seek your Doctor’s advice.)


Vaccinations

For travel from Australia or New Zealand to most ACBM countries there are no required vaccinations. It should be noted that some vaccinations are not necessary, have documented side effects, are expensive and prevent diseases that can be adequately cured. Most doctors are up-to-date on recent trends and should be able to advise you.

However, you may need vaccinations to protect you from diseases such as cholera, malaria, typhoid, polio and hepatitis. This is important if your ACBM activity takes you off the beaten track. Regardless of where you plan to travel, you should ensure you are immunised against tetanus. Care has to be taken because of diseases such as Hepatitis A & B and AIDS. Take particular care handling injured and bleeding people, use disposable gloves if possible.

Check with your doctor to ensure you are fully protected well before the date you intend to leave.


Don’t forget your medications and toiletries

It sounds obvious, but make sure you carry sufficient supplies of medications and prescription drugs for the duration of your trip and beyond. Check that prescription drugs are legal imports in the countries you are visiting. It is advisable to take an up to date prescription with you. The different environment you will enter could well aggravate certain conditions and thinking you’ll be fine or the necessary medication can be purchased overseas could be more than a silly mistake.

Avoid purchase of medications in ACBM countries as many counterfeit medications are in the marketplace!

Dietary changes can easily inflame diarrhoea, so seek a prescription for Lomotil or Imodium. If you are prone to gastric reflux stock up on antacid tablets. Asthma sufferers, even if your asthma seems dormant prior to departure, should pack theirsprays as climatic changes can exacerbate asthma.

In some countries, unless you are in a major city, everyday Australian and New Zealand toiletries can be difficult or impossible to find. Take supplies of soap, shampoo, after-shave, contact lens solution, tampons, tissues, toilet paper etc – whatever is relevant.


See your Dentist

Australia and New Zealand have high dental standards that are rarely matched in ACBM countries. If you are planning a long trip have a dental check-up before you leave. Toothache is not much fun overseas.


Is Malaria a problem?

Malaria is present in Asia and the Pacific. You should consult with your doctor about medication to protect against malaria and methods to prevent mosquito bites. Be warned, malaria is best avoided by preventing mosquito bites. Medication, while strongly recommended, does not protect you against all malarial strains. Helpful hints include:

  • Carry insect repellent (e.g. Rid Tropical Strength) in countries where malaria is a threat;
  • Be aware of the risk around dusk and apply repellent regularly when in tropical countries;
  • If available, use a mosquito net at night;
  • Sleep in light coloured nightwear as mosquitos are attracted to dark colours; and
  • If possible, sleep with an electric fan blowing on you as moving air deters mosquitos.
Remember to continue taking your malaria tablets for the required time after you return home as malaria symptoms may not show for several weeks.

Further information

  • Read the booklet “Hints for Australian Travellers” which is supplied with your Passport.
  • The Australian Government provides a comprehensive travel advice service at www.smartraveller.gov.au. This service incorporates country-specific travel advice on risks to Australian travellers overseas, and general advice for Australian travellers on worldwide risks to Australians overseas. You can also subscribe, free of charge, to receive e-mail updates on specific countries whenever that advice is changed.
  • The Australian Government also provides a travel advice phone service: call 1300 139 281 (local call cost within Australia).
  • New Zealand fieldworkers can also consult the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website (www.mfat.govt.nz). The New Zealand travel advice phone service is on (04) 439 8000.
  • Some Private Health Insurers (e.g. Medical Benefits Fund of Australia) offer a free phone service on overseas health matters to members.

Bear in mind that these services do not circumvent the need for consultation with your doctor.