Document Type: Original Article
Community Health Department, Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India
Surveillance Medical Officer, National Polio Surveillance Programme (NPSP), World Health Organization, India
Department of Community Health, St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka State, India
Introduction: The number of foreign travelers arriving in India has shown an exponential increase from 1.2 million in 1981 to 8.03 million in the year 2015, with an annual growth rate of 4.5%. With the influx of internationally mobile students to developing countries such as India comes the responsibility of having to cater to the health needs of these visitors. The current study was undertaken with the objective of assessing how travel prepared the international student travelers were, what gaps existed, and how better to address this issue in the future.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at a medical college in Bengaluru city of South India during the 6-month period from March to August, 2015. International students doing an elective rotation at the medical college were approached to participate in the study. Written informed consent was obtained from participants, and a 23-item, self-administered questionnaire was distributed to them. Data was entered in EpiData software v3.1 and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science v 21.0.
Results: The current study comprised 43 elective students. The mean age of the participants was 24 ± 2 years with age ranging from 19-29 years. Females made up the majority (79.1%). A majority of the students (69.8%) had purchased travel insurance, 62.8% had consulted a doctor prior to their travel, and 74.4% had carried a first aid kit during their travel.
Conclusion: The current study highlights the variability in the uptake of pre-travel health consultation, vaccination, and other precautions taken by student travelers. Determining the most appropriate strategies for increasing pre-travel health preparation is the next step in advancing travel medicine research.