Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Pre-travel health advice guidelines for humanitarian workers: A systematic review


Costa, Marco; Oberholzer-Riss, Martin; Hatz, Christoph; Steffen, Robert; Puhan, Milo; Schlagenhauf, Patricia (2015). Pre-travel health advice guidelines for humanitarian workers: A systematic review. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 13(6):449-465.

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.

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.

Statistics

Citations

5 citations in Web of Science®
4 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI)
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:18 Feb 2016 07:33
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 18:21
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1477-8939
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2015.11.006
PubMed ID:26701861

Download

Full text not available from this repository.
View at publisher