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Travel medicine: a moving medical practice

TM plays an important role controlling disease importation and exportation


In 2018, Brasília hosts the 54th MedTrop and the event will co-host the fifth edition of the Congress of the Latin American Society of Travel Medicine (Sociedad Lationamericana del Viajero – SLAMVI)

Regardless whether your destination is a rich country as France or a poor nation as Burkina Faso, with one of the worlds greatest malaria incidences, it is important to seek medical orientation before departing. According to scientific studies, under 30% of the worlds travelers seek information about how to reduce risks of becoming ill during trips.

Changing this picture is one of the goals of Travel Medicine (TM), also known as Traveler Medicine, which aims to reduce the risk of individual sickening and avoiding the international disease dissemination. This goal can be achieved by preparing the traveler, during a medical appointment before departing, where information as vaccination, medication use, orientation about medical attention in the destination or simple measures as caution with food, water and personal hygiene will be given.

Travel Medicine arose in Europe and North America as a response to a growing number of travelers from these regions to areas considered tropical. Its practice is based in reducing risk of individual and collective sickening, since TV plays an important role controlling disease importation and exportation. Its practice, in the beginning, aimed to protect people traveling to risk destination from infectious diseases, as malaria and yellow fever. Today this idea has grown larger.

A recent Australian study published on the Journal of Travel Medicine, from the International Society of Travel Medicine, focused on papers on the theme, evidenced the importance of pre-travel orientation preventing infectious diseases in travelers going to developed regions. In this research, infectious diseases were diagnosed in 85 patients. Among them, travelers diarrhea, tuberculosis, Lyme disease, syphilis, influenza and others. This way, sickening during trips can happen in any region and for this reason, the pre-travel medical appointment is necessary, explained Doctor Tânia Chaves, infectious diseases physician, professor at the Federal University of Pará and researcher at the Evandro Chagas Institute.

According to her, there are around 10 traveler orientation centers in the Country. She alerts, however, to the need to improve these services and increase critical mass formation in TM. This is a very young medical practice in the whole world. This is also a limiting factor for its broader practice, unlike what we find among other medical practices, said the researcher.

In Brazil, specialized TM services are tied to universities, especially medical schools and learning hospitals. This is because these are the environments where resident doctors and medicine students have the opportunity to be introduced to the practice. We know we must improve professional formation in this field, and we have work fronts to expand this capacitation by e-learning, explained the researcher.

However, she stress there are initiatives aiming to train doctors in Traveler Medicine in Latin America. One of these initiatives is the TM training and capacitation course, hosted by Sociedad Latinoamericana del Viajero – SLAMVI [Latin American Society of Travel Medicine], already in its 12th edition. The scientific activities during the scientific congresses of related areas, as Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases are also a good opportunity to promote this new practice area for new interested professionals, says Dr. Tânia Chaves.

On October 6 and 7th, SLAMVI held their fourth Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where TM experts from different Latin American countries gathered. During the event, 24 scientific activities, among round tables, controversies, workshops and conferences with participation of 92 speakers and over 500 participants. This time we count with the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (BSTM), a society that has always supported our practices including our themes in their scientific events, she said.

Direct actions

The researcher points the need of several work fronts to mass-promote the understanding of Travel Medicine. Among them, promotion of the theme in heavy circulation places, as airports, ports and bus stations. Besides this, she stresses the need to build public policies aimed not only at the traveler, but also at the migrant and refugees, who are called long-term travelers, and need broader health attention besides orientation before traveling.

Up-to-date information in epidemiology is one at the heart of TM practice. Our Country had important improvements in epidemiological and sanitary surveillance, health areas closely connected to TM. However, improving Travel Medicine is necessary, and one strategy is to have it included in health professionals programs, especially for physicians, nurses and pharmacists, agues Tânia Chaves. Another topic pointed by the doctor as a barrier in some TM practice situations, is up-to-date epidemiology information.

Traveler diarrhea responds from 50 to 70% of the travelers health issues. Other manifestations as fever, respiratory diseases and skin lesions are also complained upon return. So, keep vigilant. Simple measures can ensure a relaxed return for you and those around you.

SLAMVI Congress will be held along with MedTrop

In 2018, Brasilia will host the 54th MedTrop and the even will co-host the fifth edition of the SLAMVI Congress. Doctor Tânia Chaves, who is SLAMVIs vice president, forwards that the referred society is putting efforts with the best expectations to perform a beautiful work along with the BSTM in 2018. The idea came as a suggestion by BSTMs current president, Dr. Marcus Lacerda, during our discussions at the SLAMVI Assembly during their 4th congress, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was welcome by all members, she said while remembering this partnerships experience in 2012, during the 48th Congress of the BSTM and 18th International Congress of Tropical Medicine and Malaria, when the 3rd Congress of the SLAMVI was held in Rio de Janeiro.

For the vice-president, hosting the fifth Congress of the SLAMVI along with the BSTM has several positive aspects, among them, the real possibility to stimulate and give the interested audience the opportunity to join more than one scientific event in a single physical space. We are aware of the numerous work activities faced by health professionals, and this partnership is without a doubt, a possibility to increase the critical mass of people interested in TM, observes Doctor Tânia Chaves while adding that, besides this fact, Brasília has interesting features, as being a focal and central point of domestic and international travels. The Federal capital is very close to tourist attractions as the Chapada dos Veadeiros and Pantanal, places that draw attention not only from our travelers, but also foreign travelers, she ends.…