The Importance of a Global Health Plan to Address Tropical Diseases
Infectious diseases are popping up and becoming rampant in all parts of the world. For companies who do business globally, businesses who send their workers to foreign lands or expats who work away from home, having a solid tropical disease health insurance plan is critical.
The increasing number and spread of infectious diseases is staggering. “We are standing on the brink of a global crisis in infectious diseases,” said Dr. Hiroshi Nakajim, former Director-General of WHO, in the most recent World Health report. “No country is safe from them. No country can any longer afford to ignore their threat.”
Consider that the latest estimates by the Center for Disease Control reveal that there have been thousands upon thousands of outbreaks of the Zika virus in 2016, with reported cases in South America, the Pacific Islands, the U.S., and in Africa. Many of those infected were from travels.
Tuberculosis – Leading cause of death associated with infectious diseases globally. According to the World Health Organization, more than 9.6 million new cases of the disease occurred last year, and while WHO has reached its Millennium Development Goal in targeting, halting and reversing TB incidence by 2015, it’s still a frightening large number. In many regions of the world, the disease predominantly affects young adults and there’s been an increasing resistance of the pathogen to antimicrobial drugs.
Yellow Fever – In 2016, there was an outbreak of Yellow Fever, which is becoming rampant all over the world. Yellow Fever is a mosquito-borne virus and endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America. Due to the WHO’s Yellow Fever Initiative in 2006, significant progress had been made in combating the disease in West Africa. Over the past year, there have been 250 deaths in Angola. The significant outbreak has seemed to spread widely from Peru to Kenya to China with a separate outbreak in Uganda. Aid officials are working on mass vaccination projects in high risk areas like DRC and Uganda.
Malaria – Another infectious disease that those traveling or working abroad should be concerned about. The latest CDC data shows that in 2015, an estimated 214 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 438,000 people died—a large percentage of cases occurred in Africa. With no vaccination, travelers should be careful of mosquitos and look into preventive medication.
Leishmaniasis – Although not commonly known, Leishmaniasis is a group of diseases caused by parasite of the genus Leishmania, which is endemic in 88 countries and leads to significant morbidity and mortality. This infectious disease occurs from a bite of Phlebotominae sand flies, and can cause problems to both internal organs and the skin. Although primarily affecting those in the tropics, it is becoming more prevalent in Southern Europe. The WHO reveals that more than 1.3 million new cases are reported each year.
African trypanosomiasis – Goes by the scarier sounding “African sleeping sickness,” is a neglected parasitic infectious disease spread by the tsetse fly that has re-emerged in the last two decades as a new epidemic in the region. Currently, WHO reports 36 sub-Saharan Africa countries are home to the disease, although the amount of cases dropped below 10,000 for the first time in 50 years in 2009.
These are just some of the most recent global infectious diseases. In fact, more than 30 new diseases have emerged in just the 21st Century.
If you’re a company with employees who travel or work anywhere in the world, it’s your responsibility to protect them and provide a global tropical disease health insurance plan. Ensuring your employees conduct their due diligence and get vaccinations has to be on your checklist to review with employees before sending them abroad. Increasingly, if you don’t educate your employees on these risks you could be liable. But how do managers obtain that information?