By Chioma Obinna

Amidst the Coronavirus outbreak in China and other parts of the world, Nigerian health professionals in travel medicine are strategising and to protect Nigerians against the outbreak of contagious deadly diseases.

This is coming on the heels of the formal launch of the Nigerian Society of Travel Medicine, NSTM, in Lagos comprising doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other professionals involved in the promotion, development, and implementation of Travel Medicine in Nigeria.

The Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr. Ibijoke  Sanwo-Olu, said public health as it relates to travellers cannot be taken with levity if Nigeria is serious about protecting the generality of the people.

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Sanwo-Olu said NSTM would promote safe and healthy travel within Nigeria and beyond. “For us, the safety and well-being of the people is paramount and will continue to welcome initiatives such as the launch of this society geared towards safeguarding the health of residents.”

Speaking, the President, NSTM, Dr. Yetunde Fadipe, regretted recent events in the travel sector in which many Nigerians board planes to different parts of the world without necessarily seeing any doctor or getting any form of healthcare assessment.

Fadipe who noted the risks of travelling said: “A lot of Nigerians are actually not aware that they need any form of health assessment before they travel. Society is here to create awareness on the importance of travel health, particularly the health assessment before, during and after travel.”

In her presentation entitled: “Travel Medicine in Nigeria: The journey so far and Opportunities for the Future”, the Chief Operating Officer, Magna Carta Health,  Dr. Lolade Adeyemi said the Coronavirus catalyses the need for all travel medicine stakeholders to come together to combat the public health emergency, as declared by the World Health Organisation, WHO.

She explained that travel medicine is about purposefully seeking information, consultation, medication and sometimes vaccinations for intended travel, as more than 1.4 billion travellers worldwide crossed international boundaries in 2018, compared to just 25 million in 1950.

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“1.4 billion People can potentially acquire and spread infectious diseases in one year,  which is  approximately 18 percent of the world population, according to the Centre for  Disease Control,  30 to 60 percent of people become ill as a result of their travel across countries.”

The Past President, International Society of Travel Medicine, Dr. Leo Visser said that society is a milestone in the history of medicine in Nigeria, as travel medicine is becoming more important, in which everybody is much aware of the outbreak of coronavirus spreading around the world.

Visser added that the relevance of being well advised before and after travelling is becoming more important, as society has a role in educating people travelling to areas where there are more circulation and transmission of infectious diseases, such as the Asian continent.”

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