Before going abroad, take into consideration your own medical and mental health issues by getting a complete physical, dental, and eye check-up 4-6 weeks before you travel. Know the health risks, illnesses, diseases, food/water precautions and recommended immunizations for your destination. Research where the best hospitals and clinics are located. Understand how and where to seek help. Below are some key resources that are available to you to help you prepare for a safe and healthy experience abroad.
Country Health Information and Immunizations
There are excellent and comprehensive health websites available to help you plan for your trip. These include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler's Health page, the US Department of State Traveler's Checklist, and the World Health Organization website. With these resources you will find recommended immunizations, current information on diseases and outbreaks, health and safety precautions, health risk mitigation strategies, recommended hospitals and clinics, and emergency response information.
Make sure to start your planning early. Some immunizations require several series in order to complete.
Many international travelers have prescription medications that they require during their travel. If you have prescriptions that you will take with you on your trip abroad, please follow the suggestions below.
Any medications being carried abroad should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled along with the original pharmacy receipts if possible.
If you are traveling abroad with a preexisting medical condition, carry with you a letter from your attending physician describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs.
Look at the required documentation and restrictions in the country by visiting the International Narcotics Control Board website. Also you should check with the foreign embassy of the country or countries you are planning to visit to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal. A list of foreign embassies and consulates and their contact info can be found here.
International insurance and medical assistance companies that provide international medical coverage (such as HTH Worldwide) can help with information regarding transporting prescription drugs abroad, setting up physician appointments abroad, ordering new prescriptions and prescription drug translation (foreign language equivalents). If you have further questions about getting this information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, (801) 422-5357.
If you wear eyeglasses, take an extra pair with you. Pack medicines and extra eyeglasses in your hand luggage so they will be available in case your checked luggage is lost. If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, food, insect bites, or other unique medical problems, consider wearing a "medical alert" bracelet. You may also wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining required treatment should you become ill.
Emergency and Medical Assistance
Before departure, you should establish a proactive medical emergency contingency plan.
Understanding your destination before you go is key to a healthy and safe trip abroad. Mitigating health risks (implementing food and water precautions, avoiding mosquito bites, proper immunizations, etc.) is equally important to quality of local health care. In many developing locations, quality and availability of health care is often limited and does not meet US standards. Before you go, research not only health risks in your destination, but also learn where the best medical facilities are located in your area and what services they offer. Your international insurance and medical assistance providers can assist you in finding out this information. Many will even assist in arranging a doctor and appointments for you. You can also contact the US embassy in your destination for their recommendations on local health care providers.
During a crisis event abroad, the Office of Overseas Citizens Services' Emergencies Abroad page is very helpful. Their overseas emergency contact number is +1 202-501-4444.
Medical Emergency Guidelines
- Understand and follow your insurance providers instructions for seeking emergency care.
- Go to the nearest reliable medical facility (contracted with your insurance provider or not). Take a valid debit/credit card or cash and your insurance care/information. Be prepared to pay upfront for your medical care and get reimbursed later.
- Contact your insurance provider as soon as you are able. Be prepared to give them a reliable contact number, inform them of your current situation, and your current location, your insurance number, your affiliation with BYU (study abroad program, work department, etc.). Depending on your provider, they may monitor your medical condition, quality of care, and arrange for guarantee of payment with your medical facility. Let them know of any concerns or questions you may have.
- After receiving initial treatment, you or an able peer (or your insurance provider) should contact your BYU program director, department supervisor, and key family members. Inform your BYU and family contacts of your current situation, location, and a contact number for you. Let them know of your concerns and questions.
- Stay in regular contact with your BYU director, department supervisor, and key family members with regular updates on your condition and progress.
- If you do pay for your own medical expenses, obtain itemized receipts (facility name, doctor's name, services performed, medications, and exact costs and charges) from the medical facility you are being treated at. Keep all receipts so that you can file a reimbursement claim later with your medical insurance provider.