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Travel medicine crucial in containing spread of infectious diseases, say experts

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The Nigerian Society of Travel Medicines (NSTM) has backed the government’s effort towards containing the spread of Lassa fever, coronavirus and other infectious diseases, as Nigeria welcomes travellers from other parts of the world.

This was made know during the launch of the NSTM held in Lagos.The wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who graced the occasion, commended the group of specialists for coming at a time when countries of the world are strategising and putting measures in place to protect their people against outbreak of contagious deadly diseases.

Sanwo-olu stressed that the issue of public health as it relates to travelers cannot be taken with levity “if we are truly serious about protecting the generality of the people.”

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The governor’s wife said she is happy to identify with the vision of the society, which is to promote safe and healthy travel within and outside Nigeria for the travelers, noting that at the moment, the Lagos State Government is equally ramping up capacity in terms of personnel and infrastructure to deal with outbreak of diseases.

“For us, safety and well-being of the people is paramount and will continue to welcome initiatives such as the launch of this society, populated by doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other professionals who are involved in promotion, development and implementation of Travel Medicine in Nigeria, as well as geared towards safeguarding the health of residents,” she said.

The President, NSTM, Dr. Yetunde Fadipe, stressed that the society, is coming now in Nigeria at this critical time, considering the recent events in the travel sector, noting that many Nigerians get on the plane to different part of the world without necessarily seeing any doctor or getting any form of healthcare assessment.

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“All lot of Nigerians are actually not aware that they need any form of health assessment before they travel. The society is here to create awareness on the importance of travel health, particularly the health assessment before, during and after travels. Because traveling exposes the travelers to many risks during the journey and at the destinations they are going to,” she added.

Also, the Chief Operating Officer, Magna Carta Health, Dr. Lolade Adeyemi, stressed that coronavirus catalyses the need for all travel medicine stakeholders to come together to combat this deadly public Health emergency, as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She said coronavirus has claimed more lives and infected a large number of people, noting that it is gearing towards a worldwide pandemic, as she hopes that the concerted efforts put in place by the world are sufficient to combat its raging spread.

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

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She stressed that the 1.4 billion people can potentially acquire and spread infectious diseases in one year, which is approximately 18 percent of the world population, noting that 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 the 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.

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

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi commended the society and its vision in helping Nigeria curb spread of deadly infectious diseases, which are transported during traveling, as the passengers are exposed to risks of contacting the diseases at their point of origin, as well as bringing the disease down to their destinations.

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