UAE summer holidays: Why it is essential to take pre-travel medical consultations

Contacting the travel medicine clinic before the departure date is essential, ideally four to eight weeks before leaving the country

by

Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 24 Jul 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 24 Jul 2023, 1:54 PM

Imagine the stress you would face after months of meticulous planning, booking, and organising your vacation, only to encounter a health complication in a foreign land without medication or insurance. According to medics in the UAE, it is highly likely that people may experience travel-related illness during their holidays.

Prioritising a pre-travel consultation with a travel medicine clinic is important as healthcare professionals reiterate that any physical discomfort can jeopardise holiday plans. Some UAE hospitals even have dedicated travellers' clinics that provide preventive medical care.


Dr Ahmed Hashim Ahmed Mohamed, General Practitioner, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, said: "Traveler's health clinic at the hospital is established under the family medicine department and specialises in travel medicine. The clinic provides preventive medical care, including vaccinations against tropical diseases like yellow and typhoid fever. The doctors also prescribe medications to prevent diseases like malaria.

Dr Ahmed Hashim
Dr Ahmed Hashim

"The patients/clients seeking services in the clinic are mainly international travellers who embark on trips abroad for leisure, business, and visiting friends and family. Such clinics are established to carry out individual clinical risk assessments based on the needs of the patients according to their travel plans."


When travellers consult with doctors prior to their journey, medical professionals can provide valuable advice on various precautions to mitigate health risks related to infectious diseases, parasitic infections, and environmental hazards specific to the area of travel.

Contacting the travel medicine clinic before one's departure date is essential, ideally four to eight weeks before leaving the country.

"Provide copies of your immunisation records, including the International Certificate of Vaccination (yellow card). This will expedite your clinic visit and reduce your necessary vaccines. During the pre-travel consultation, the doctors will thoroughly assess health risks specific to each country in your travel itinerary, considering exotic infectious agents, altitude sickness, and heat exhaustion. A review of your medical and immunisation history, with health promotion and illness prevention advice, will also be carried out," Mohamed adds.

What medicines to carry

Doctors advise packing a medical kit for adults and children travelling with them. Holidaymakers should carry a thermometer, insect repellent, ORS or hydration pack, motion sickness medication, anti-allergic medication, antibacterial and antifungal cream, cough syrup, pain and fever medication, diarrhoea medicine, and antacid.

Dr Maria Clarrisa Sagun Magallane
Dr Maria Clarrisa Sagun Magallane

Dr Maria Clarrisa Sagun Magallanes, G.P. Prime Medical Center Al Barsha Heights, said: "People who travel overseas have more than fifty per cent chance of experiencing a travel-related illness. Get travel insurance which includes hospital coverage. While most travel-related illnesses are minor, some can lead to serious health issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, surgeries, accidents, etc. All travellers should be prepared for travel and be aware of health issues and measures to protect themselves from sickness."

They suggest undergoing a dental and vision check-up and carrying a pair of spare glasses that can prove to be handy.

"Plaster/bandages including band-aid, sterile dressing, gauze, antiseptic cream is also a must," adds Magallanes.

Patients with underlying medical conditions, immunodeficiency, ongoing medications, and pregnant women should be doubly careful.

Dr Jemshid Eranhikkal, Internal Medicine, Aster Clinic, Tecom Dubai, said: "Medical consultation should be obtained at least one month before travel to allow time for thorough evaluation and immunisation. Patients should take sufficient supplies of current medications; equivalent drugs may not be available in travel destinations."

Medications required for daily use should be kept in hand baggage and not left in checked-in baggage that might get lost.

He adds: "East-west travel, across times zones, sometimes requires insulin dose adjustments which need discussion in pre-travel consultation. Some patients with lung or heart diseases may have complications due to low oxygen and air pressure during flight, and such patients should ideally consult with their treating doctor before travel. Vaccinations and medications should be taken to prevent endemic infections. Travellers who cross several time zones may experience jet lag and can benefit from melatonin."

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