The conference, to be held at De Montfort University, Leicester, will be looking at many aspects to do with preparing those travelling to far flung places and doing more than just lying on a sun-bed.
The programme is suitable for anyone working in the field of travel medicine, from beginner to advanced practitioners. There will be a range of workshops and lectures designed to help in your every day practice.
I thought it about time I started reviewing a few health related books and articles, so enjoy…
Benjamin Franklin once wrote ‘in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes’. Having read Bad Pharma I would add ‘…and anything published by Ben Goldacre’. Why such certainty? Well it would be impossible to publish such a damning book critical of the pharmaceutical industry without either robust evidence or the world’s best team of lawyers.
For those unfamiliar with this author, Ben is a GP whose first bestseller Bad Science, took us on an hilarious journey through ‘quack’ medicine (aka homeopathy), placebo effects, medical statistics, health scares and the MMR hoax. Research is never an easy subject to fathom, but that book achieved it, opening up the world of medical data to a wider audience.
Bad Pharma has opened up another world, but one far murkier and, quite frankly, appalling. From the opening chapter Ben reveals how the pharmaceutical industry goes out of its way to hide trial data which in turn lead to unnecessary patient deaths, use techniques to ensure prescribing of expensive branded medication over generic equivalents, directs funding and finance towards targeted patient groups, prevents governmental organisations providing realistic data and guidance on the drugs we prescribe daily, and interferes with media reporting. Ben has a fair and balanced approach throughout the book. By fair and balanced I mean that nearly all of the major pharma companies do not escape criticism of their actions over the last decade, including those best known to the travel health industry.
So far many of the critics of this book suggest this is in fact ‘old news’ and pharma’s act has been cleaned up, most of us being savvy to the infamous ‘tricks of the trade’. However, one only needs to review recent press releases about Tamiflu and it becomes clear there is far more cleaning up to do, as this institutionalised ethical cancer has metastasised to an almost untreatable level.
After reading this book I found myself in a slight quandary. The travel medicine community is a large benefactor of the generosity of big pharma. Many of us, myself included, have benefited from corporate sponsorship and employment through consultancy and teaching. It is without doubt pharma input has provided practice nurses and GP’s with continuing and comprehensive continuing professional development. Their support of study days is incomparable and, unfortunately, currently necessary as the NHS often fails to deliver appropriate training for its staff, and to that end we are grateful. Globally, vaccines have measurably improved human population health and conquered diseases that have caused suffering for millennia. However, as Ben quite clearly describes in his book, this cannot and does not excuse the pharmaceutical industry from their moral obligations to behave responsibly. This could include behaviour such as releasing all drug trial data so we as clinicians can have a better chance of doing what’s right for our patient and not what the latest shiny advert suggests is right, or perhaps being less involved in study days.
If the world in which we work has any chance of changing, I would suggest this book be mandatory reading for any student in healthcare. For those of you old and wise enough to be aware of pharma industry issues, I challenge you to read this book and try firstly, not to be surprised at the level to which big pharma has sunk, and secondly, consider it in relation to your daily practice. For those of you who are newer to this arena, just remember the next time you are enjoying a wonderful study day, laid on in a plush hotel, having just had a second helping of deep fried prawns in a hoisin sauce, all that glisters certainly isn’t gold.
Declaration of Interests
James has received Pharma money for lecturing, consultancy work and sponsored conference places (but following this review suspects those times are past)
In January 2012 the Wilderness Medical Training (WMT) ran a Far From Help course designed to go beyond basic first aid training and help to answer that all important question: “What would you do in an emergency situation?” The course was lead by James Moore; a travel consultancy nurse located in Exeter, who combined excellent teaching methods with basic and complex information to run an overall greatly successful course.
The course covered many aspects of emergency treatment, from chest and abdominal injuries to common infections that must be treated appropriately whilst far from any professional sources of Healthcare. It also contributed greatly to many whose confidence may have previously been shaken when placed in an emergency situation. Yet most of all, the course helped those gain knowledge on how to react when an emergency is presented unexpectedly, whether it be a family member breaking a bone, a stranger suffering from a life threating head injury, or a friend overcome with medical shock. The course was overall so successful, that an article by the Telegraph expressing the numerous benefits of the course was written, which can be viewed here.
The course was run by the Wilderness Medical Training, who have been around for the past 20 years providing courses for Medics and Explorers and inspiring many to join in with their association. They provide training in locations such as Chamonix, Morocco, Kenya and the UK, developing skills for medics and lay-people undertaking adventures in different climates, locations and situations. There is no doubt these courses are the best of their kind.
Thousands of people in the Muslim community participate in the all-important pilgrimage to the Hajj every year, in which many will make this Sacred Pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Yet despite the journey they face, there are certain risks involved, particularly illnesses that thrives and spreads quickly in mass gatherings, such as the Hajj or Umrah.
One of these diseases, meningitis, can be avoided by being vaccinated.
The Meningococcal (ACWY) vaccination not only provides immunity from this disease, but also reduces rates of carriage. This means families and friends do not have to worry and can concentrate on and enjoy this once in a lifetime holy journey.
This vaccination is mandatory, a rule enforced by the Saudi Government, ensuring everyone is vaccinated, providing a safer environment for travellers.
Following collaboration between the Muslim Council of Great Britain and Novartis Vaccines, the Exeter travel clinic ‘Travel Health Consultancy’ is providing this vaccine at a greatly reduced price.
Anyone who requests the vaccine will also be provided with a vaccination certificate proving that they have protected themselves against the virus. The vaccine will be provided, administrated by a trained professional and a certificate presented for no more than £35. All this is provided in order to make the journey as safe as possible for those in the Muslim community.
Travel Health Consultancy have recently been involved in working with The Met Office, providing advise and guidance on the specialized topic of “Streetwise Travel”. The short course was designed specifically to enhance skills in preparation for busness travel and avoiding or addressing certain problems whilst away.
Met Office staff discussed the importance of the individual and team approach to travel health, highlighting what precautions should be taken in order to look out for each other.
The course stressed the importance of planning work related travel, such as ensuring adequate communication links, helpful routines and plans in case of emergencies. It also questioned what risks may be faced by the individual, for instance, are there any human or environmental risks specific to that trip, or whether the food and drinks available are safe for consumption?
Oft ignored issues of business travel were covered, such as culture shock – rarely expected but often experienced. Finally the teamed discussed previous personal incidents and gave feedback on what went wrong and how they would avoid these issues in the future.
Without question the course helped raise awareness of what issues may be faced as a business traveller, and the importance of team relationships, which are crucial when travelling and working abroad.
This year’s Stretching Horizons Educational Travel Conference aims to push the boundaries of learning and teaching and to furthermore inspire those on an educational journey of learning outside of the classroom altogether. With a huge number of experts and teachers, as well as youth expedition providers and trip support specialists, this year’s Travel Conference is sure to be an incredibly eye-opening event.
Held in the At-Bristol discovery Centre from the 12- 13th October, the conference provides crucial information on planning for trips, as well as legal and Safety aspects of expeditions, all presented by experts of their own fields. An array of high profile speakers will also be present, including National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year (2012), Alastair Humphreys, who hopes to inspire and bring to the surface motivation of those who wish to provide education further from the classroom, and link learning to the wider world. Many other high profile speakers will be present, with different aspects covered, yet all with the motive to encourage educational travel.
Filled with Passionate educators and highly professional individuals this Conference is certainly one not to be missed. Learning outside the classroom in varied environments greatly contributes to widening student’s knowledge and also gives many a sense of global awareness, making this a vital aspect of education.
This Wednesday will see the next in a series of Travel Medicine study days, taking place in Wimbledon. Run in conjunction with Sanofi Pasteur MSD these study days are suitable for all clinicians involved in providing travel medicine services. Subjects covered include:
The complicated traveller
Travel related mortality and morbidity
Extending your scope of practice
Resources, courses and inspiration
Also included in the day will be:
Influenza updates – by an NHS/HPA Public Health Specialist
Vis-online overview – Sanofi Pasteur
Reviews of the days run so far have been excellent…
Interesting, motivational and evidenced based – Practice Nurse, Worcester
Early next month I will be giving an evening talk on my work as an expedition medic. The event will be held at the Treasury Café-Bar-Restaurant, Catherine Street, Royal Parade, Plymouth and promises to be a great evening. I aim to walk you through some of the issues currently faced by expedition medics, highlighting examples from my own trips and inspire you to seek adventure.
The event is being organised by Explorers Connect, who describe themselves as:
“…a growing community of adventurers and independent travellers. Anyone with a desire for adventure, challenge or exploration is welcome to join. As part of the community you can find out about the latest adventure industry news, jobs, opportunities and events, advertise your projects and services, find help and browse resources. You can also join a group near you to meet like-minded people, share advice and get inspired. Explorers Connect is all about making adventurous plans happen.”
Over the last few months I have been providing travel health updates for Practice Nurses across the Southwest and West Midlands. Sanofi Pasteur have brought together specialists in Public Health, Vaccinations and Travel Health to provide nurses with an enjoyable and informative day. The days appear to have been well received and hopefully there will be more to follow. For those of you who’ve come to listen – thanks and I hope you enjoyed it. For those who haven’t, the last one is on Wednesday 13th July at the Holiday Inn, Jct 10, M4, Reading.
This autumn conference season is looking increasingly interesting, particularly regarding the fields of travel and expedition health.
The British Travel Health Association (BTHA) (not to be confused with the British Toy and Hobby Association!) will be holding their annual conference at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on October the 1st. Various topics include ‘carrying medications overseas’, ‘preparing the long term traveller’ and ‘travellers experiences of local healthcare provision’. This is a wonderful oportunity for healthcare professionals interested in broadening their scope of practice to meet up and listen to subject specialists. Just as importantly the conference provides an opportunity for networking, socialising and a good old catch up with friends from the world of travel medicine.
For more details download the conference flyer Click Here