For those of you new to travel health, you may not be aware of the International Association for the Medical Assistance of Travelers – or IAMAT. It has actually been around since 1960 and was started by a physician who saw a need to help travelers stay healthy. It is a 501(c)(3) with a Board of Directors and an International Advisory Board made up of travel health experts. It’s free to join. Membership is valid for one year but can be renewed with a tax deductible donation. Over the years, they have produced a number of excellent resources to assist travelers and travel health professionals.
I’m sure many of you feel as I do – that we are constantly bombarded with information and it can be difficult to muster any enthusiasm for one more unfamiliar thing, but this is an organization you should investigate further. I sort of stumbled upon IAMAT several years ago when a travel health colleague retired and someone passed along her IAMAT mail to me. The brochure described a number of seemingly useful travel health resources and services. I was intrigued and made my way to their website.
Here’s what I found. They have a monthly blog with timely topics. See Stings and bites: Preventing marine injuries, In the news: Vaccines, pharmacies, bug spray and brain drain, and New! Try Our Travel Health Planner!
Travelers can get country specific updates regarding local health risks, recommended vaccines, and current conditions. They also get access to a list of English speaking clinicians around the world vetted by IAMAT. These affiliated physicians and mental health professionals can only charge up to a maximum of $100 for the initial visit. Travelers can also download IAMAT’s comprehensive Guide to Healthy Travel and Guide to Travel Health Insurance. The former is a detailed 84 page guide written by University of Washington travel health experts Elaine Jong and Anne Terry along with IAMAT’s Tullia Marcolongo. It covers a wide array of topics. Travelers with specific questions can ask one of IAMAT’s travel health experts. There’s an open access e-library with lots of articles covering topics such as traveling with anxiety, bed bugs, traveling with medications, and medical tourism.
Handy charts include the World Immunization Chart which is an amazing summary of general vaccine recommendations for every country in a two-page brochure. The World Malaria Risk Chart and World Schistosomiasis Risk Chart are also quite informative.
For travel health professionals there’s a new publication, The Older Traveler – A guide for the health professional, which is a collaborative effort from the South African Society of Travel Medicine, the South African Geriatrics Society and IAMAT. It is available in the US for only $16.
In addition, IAMAT offers a number of scholarships that provide additional training to physicians and nurses in the area of travel health.
In summary, IAMAT provides a wealth of reliable travel health information at very little cost. It’s simply a great deal – especially for travelers on a budget. I’m glad I joined IAMAT and recommend you join too. Their mission is in sync with our mission – keeping travelers healthy- and there’s still plenty of work to go around.
-Julie Richards, President
American Travel Health Nurses Association