Oil and gas workers are being urged to ensure they have taken precautions against one of the world’s biggest killer diseases as they search further afield to find work away from the North Sea.
Countries are reporting a rise in imported malaria cases and oil and gas industry travellers are being reminded about the importance of taking appropriate precautions when travelling to malaria endemic areas.
Oil and gas companies are sending employees on assignment to malaria affected areas.
Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Guinea and Togo account for 87% of areas that have the highest prevalence of malaria, according to a 2014 study published in the UK medical journal, The Lancet.
Employers retain a duty of care to protect employees and must ensure travellers are well informed about the importance of taking appropriate precautions and implementing prevention tactics when in malaria endemic areas.
Understanding the risks at destination, preventing mosquito bites and using preventive medication if prescribed are key to minimising the impact.
International SOS, a medical and travel security risk services company, analysed the requests for assistance they received regarding malaria over a four-year period (2012-2015).
New data indicates a correlation between malaria education and the number of malaria in-patient, out-patient, and evacuation assistance services required by international travellers.
Dr Irene Lai, Medical Director at International SOS, said: “Travelling abroad has become very common for some – and, the more the novelty wears off, so does the time and effort in pre-travel preparation.
“Unfortunately for the global traveller, neglecting the research and preparation for health-related matters can end up with serious consequences.”
A recent global study found that only 32% of travellers research diseases prior to going abroad.
Great Britain is far below all of the other countries surveyed, with only 12% of people in Great Britain reporting they research diseases prior to travel abroad.3
Dr Lai said: “The data shows that lack of pre-travel preparation is the norm, indicating travellers are complacent about risks.
“It is imperative for travellers to know the symptoms of malaria and seek immediate medical attention if they develop – even if they believe they have taken all the right preventive actions.
“We still see travellers dying from malaria and these deaths may have been preventable.”
The most effective way for travellers to reduce the likelihood of contracting malaria is to understand the risks at their destination, prevent mosquito bites, and use preventive medication if prescribed, said International SOS.
Malaria cases are on the rise amongst travellers.
In June 2015, Public Health England (PHE) reported an overall increase of 5.7% in imported malaria infections in the UK.
In addition to the well-being of travellers and staff, organisations can financially benefit from malaria prevention programmes.
Return on Prevention, a paper published by research and consultancy firm Prevent, determined a return of $1.32 for each $1 invested in an employee malaria prevention programme.5
Travellers are encouraged to speak with a travel health professional prior to travelling to malaria endemic areas.