Roy Mundheim | December 8th, 2016
Travel sets us up for growth and the expansion of our minds and spirit. Unfortunately, we also expose ourselves to flora, fauna, bacteria, and viruses that our system is unfamiliar with. If you’re hungry to see the world and adventure runs through your veins, a visit to the travel clinic is must-go place to start your preparation. For those of us who watched the first season of Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGH, we learned a bit about the health hazards of travel. The third episode featured a woman who had to spend four days in a hospital in Thailand after stepping on some corral and another woman who had contracted a deadly form of malaria while travelling in Africa. Both women recovered but the episode left me with a healthy fear of the many dangers that exist when we leave the familiarity of our own country and venture to far off lands. Travel clinics made up of physicians and nurses provide expert consultations offering advice, knowledge, resources, and vaccines while answering many of your travel health questions. It can be a life saver.
Put it on your radar
Beaches, mountains, sight-seeing, and exotic cuisine are what most of us think about when we hear the word travel or start planning our next great trip. Yellow fever, hepatitis, e coli, and cholera don’t fit in to that romantic adventurous idea of travel we have in our minds. Nothing ruins a trip quicker than traveller’s diarrhea and a nice bout of vomiting. How about acquiring Dengue Fever in Asia? “It was not even on my radar,” my friend, Richard, recalls. Richard contracted Dengue Fever in Thailand in 2000. He became weak and nauseous with severe joint pain. Without medical insurance, he absorbed the costs of admission in a Bangkok hospital until a friend arranged a flight to Amsterdam, Holland where Richard was a citizen. There, he was diagnosed and treated for Dengue Fever. He was fortunate to survive. Richard had wisely visited a travel clinic before leaving on his trip but did not have the travel medical insurance he should have. His advice: “If you’re going to travel, learn about the area, visit a travel clinic, and definitely make sure you have insurance. You never know what can happen,”
The Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Travel Clinic was established in 1978 and is operated by the public health branch of VCH. Travel medicine is not covered by the government and requires a customer paid fee. However, some routine vaccines are covered under the public health benefit. Additionally, some extended health plans cover the costs. While visiting a travel clinic can be expensive, it will be much more costly to contract a local affliction or drink water in a country where you should have gone with the bottled stuff.
Over the past couple of years, The VCH Travel Clinic has provided my wife and I with advice, knowledge, resources, and vaccines for our trips to Nepal, Mexico, and China. They advised us on drinking water, food borne illness, and which vaccines were important for the areas we were travelling to. I can be confident that our vaccines are up to date and we are as ready as possible wherever we decide to go. My wife and I have not become ill on any of our travels.
Travelling gives us the opportunity for adventure, new experiences, and a different world view. However, travel plans can quickly change due to many various health hazards. A travel clinic is an invaluable resource for staying healthy while also being prepared if health challenges arrive. The VCH Travel Clinic is an essential pre-trip destination for my wife and I. We have avoided illness thanks to a little luck, a little caution, and the VCH Travel Clinic. Include a visit to the travel clinic when planning your next trip. Stay healthy.
Make an appointment
The VCH Travel Clinic advises making an appointment 4 – 6 weeks prior to departure. You can visit their website with up to date travel information and how to prepare for healthy travel here:
Healthy well-travelled citizens make our province and country better. Shouldn’t Travel Medicine be covered by MSP?