Health risk ‘map’ helps energy sector firms assess risk overseas

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North-east oil and gas companies are set to benefit from an updated map which will allow them to assess risk levels in worldwide locations – ensuring their employees are safe when travelling abroad.

International SOS has released its ‘Health Risk Map 2015’, which shows significant improvement in private healthcare in Africa.

The map helps organisations, such as multinational companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), educational institutions and governments, understand the health threats involved in operating in worldwide locations and identify risks. For Aberdeen-based oil companies in particular, it helps employers ensure that staff are safe ahead of any overseas assignment, as part of their duty of care.

This year’s map now includes 17 countries, which have had their risk ratings changed, as well as countries which have downgraded to a ‘lower risk’ category, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria. Nations that have moved to a ‘higher risk’ category include Grenada, Guatemala and Mauritius.

Dr Beau Dees, regional medical director for International SOS in the Northern Seas, said: “Without a proper assessment, business travellers and international workers often have misconceptions about the risks they will be exposed to overseas. Operational experience in some countries in the Americas over the last year has highlighted limitations in specialist medical care available, with a corresponding increase in medical evacuation. We have therefore increased the medical risk rating of these countries.

“Recent International SOS data shows that over 40 per cent of our medical cases occur in countries classed as ‘High’ or ‘Extreme’ risk. This is a significant increase from less than 25 per cent in 2010. Preparation of travellers, including a risk assessment, education and health check programme for staff, will reduce the need for intervention after travel.

“This is especially important for people travelling to high and extreme risk countries. Health Risk Map 2015 is just one of the many tools that can help organisations plan and prepare for operations around the world.”

The Health Risk Map 2015 provides an overview of the threats of infectious disease, hygiene and sanitation, accidents and the availability and quality of the local health infrastructure. The latest map indicates health risk by five categories, including low to extreme, and a new category for large rapidly developing countries.

Dr Doug Quarry, medical director, medical information and analysis at International SOS, said: “The analysis from our medical experts presents a very interesting story about private healthcare services in some African nations. We have seen continued investment in a number of countries, often from foreign investors, including those in the private medical insurance market. It means citizens, overseas workers and expatriates have access to higher standard hospital facilities.

“We have to view these improvements in the context of the continent’s overall risks. Obviously, the ongoing Ebola outbreak highlights the challenges in existing healthcare systems. Nevertheless, these developments are a positive step for healthcare in Africa. And while we are still talking about relatively low numbers of new quality facilities, we may well see more improvements of this nature in the coming years.”

A free copy of Health Risk Map 2015 can be downloaded at www.internationalsos.com. A dedicated, free Ebola resources site is also available at www.internationalsos.com/ebola.

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