Home » International News » 2014 » February » February 25, 2014

Health Issues on the Rise for Business Travellers: Increased Risk in a Changing World

February 25, 2014 - New Delhi, Delhi , India

-- Over 40% of medical cases occurred in countries classed as ‘high’ or ‘extreme risk’
-- This is a sharp increase from less than 25% in 2010
-- Many costly medical cases in ‘extreme risk’ countries potentially preventable

A growing number of business travellers and expatriates are being sent to countries with higher medical risks, and more of them are requiring medical assistance than ever before.

International SOS medical case data from 2013 shows our members are working and living in increasingly risky locations and need to consider planning and preparing accordingly.  
International SOS Medical Director - Assistance, Dr. Samir Dwivedi said:

“Our message is clear. If you haven’t thought about preparing your travellers and don’t already have programmes in place to do so, the time to act is now.

Many hospitalisations and medical evacuations are due to preventable causes such as injuries and cardiovascular problems and the risk of evacuation is related to the medical risk at the destination. Preparation of travellers, including a risk assessment, education and health check programme for staff, will reduce the need for intervention after travel. This is especially important for those travelling to high and extreme risk countries.

Potentially such preparation can have a positive impact on business continuity. If companies are not proactively managing the health of their travelling staff prior to deployment, they are running the risk of failed assignments, preventable costs, litigation, or even a tragic outcome.”

Key findings from 2013 – data from approximately 600,000 medical cases in 2013

  • Over 40% of medical cases occurred in countries classed as ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ risk - a sharp increase from less than 25% in 2010.
  • Looking at medical cases by type, heart disease ranks number 5 for men but isn’t in the top ten for women.
  • 11% of medical cases in extreme countries are due to cardiovascular disease, while another 11% can be attributed to infectious illnesses including malaria and dengue fever. Many of these cases could be prevented through pre-deployment programmes such as screening for heart disease, or education on preventing mosquito-borne infections.  
  • As in previous years, injuries, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems are the three most common reasons that our members will contact us for medical assistance.
Asia and Middle East
  • 50% of cases in Asia and the Middle East are in ‘high’ risk countries with assistance most commonly required in Indonesia, India, China and Vietnam. This compares with 29% in 2010.
Other regions
  • Africa continues to be without any countries classed as ‘low risk’. The combined share of medical cases in high and extreme risk countries has increased since 2010, from 78% to 85%.
  • In medical terms Europe remains a largely low risk continent. Nevertheless, members still require medical assistance in low risk areas.  A greater proportion of people (87%) are contacting us from low risk locations, whereas in 2010 the figure was 59%.
  • Medical cases by risk category in the Americas are generally at similar levels to 2010. The number of cases in extreme risk countries has decreased slightly.  
  • The number of medical cases in higher risk Oceania countries has increased over the last 4 years, from 14% in 2010 to 25% in 2013. 
Our travellers
  • The number of male and female adults under 40 who seek our help prior to, or during, travel is the same. However over the age of 40, the number of men who call us for medical assistance is more than double the number of women.
  • Men are more likely to be injured than women whilst overseas. They are also more likely to have a cardiovascular event (such as a heart attack) or suffer from insect-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
The data analysis mirrors recent research from International SOS which shows:
  • Nearly 50% of travelers and expatriates hospitalised in a high risk country will require a medical evacuation.
  • In an extreme risk country, that figure rises to nearly 80%.
  • Only 32% of the 628 organisations surveyed by the International SOS Foundation conduct person/location risk assessments prior to expatriate assignments. 

Notes to editors
International SOS HealthMap 2014

The HealthMap is now in its fifth year. It illustrates the global medical risk and can support a better understanding of the medical environment facing the mobile workforce. It can provide a guide to trip preparation, from pre-trip travel medical consultations right through to the provision of medical services in areas with poor local medical infrastructure.

(For hard copies please contact us)
International SOS

International SOS ( is the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services company. We care for clients across the globe, from more than 700 locations in 76 countries. Our expertise is unique: More than 10,000 employees are led by 1,200 physicians and 200 security specialists. Teams work night and day to protect our members.
We have pioneered a range of preventative programmes and offer an unparalleled response to emergencies. We are passionate about helping clients put ‘Duty of Care’ into practice. With us multinational corporate clients, governments and NGOs can mitigate risks for their people working remotely or overseas.

Source: Business Wire India


Comment on this story