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Following is an article copied from England's respected
Financial Times, Sept 4, 2000, on the reasons business traveler's should be vigilant when it comes to their health:
Corporations often seem vigilant to the point of neurosis about the welfare of employees in the workplace. How strange, then, that when employees travel on business, so little effort is made to ensure their good physical health.
"The main issue of business-traveller health which concerns me is when people fly to medically risky destinations at short notice without adequate protection," says Dr Richard Dawood, medical director of the Fleet Street Travel Clinic in London. Failure to immunise as a matter of routine means some business travellers rush off before a vaccine can take effect or without taking anti-malaria pills.
Dr Dawood estimates that the proportion of business travellers who go unprotected is even higher than that - partly because they are more likely to travel at short notice, but also because the superior facilities they use can create a false sense of security. "The fly that lands on your plate does not know how much you paid for your food," he says.
An unprotected traveller is also an unproductive one. A recent survey by AON Occupational Health, a Scottish company, found that 50 per cent of 154 international business travellers experienced illness over a nine-month period, compared with only 30 per cent of a control group of 136 who did not travel. Twelve per cent lost working time through illness while abroad. "If a traveller spends Pounds 5,000 on a four-day trip to Abidjan and wastes 24 hours of that visit in his hotel room lavatory, that is Pounds 1,250 down the toilet," says Dr Dawood.
Andrew Solum, senior consultant with Travel Industry Associates, the travel-management consultancy, urges his clients to include a planned protection programme in their travel policies, but frequently finds his suggestions overruled. "It often gets crossed out of the policy document when it goes for approval to a director. Senior management seem to think it is not needed because it is a matter of commonsense, but it is not," says Mr Solum.
One employer that has been forced to confront the issue is Freshfields, the law firm, which settled out of court with Kate Cawthorn, a trainee solicitor, after she contracted dysentery in Ghana while handling the flotation of Ashanti Goldfields Corporation in 1994. She claimed Freshfields was negligent for not ensuring she had the proper inoculations and for not giving her dietary or other advice.
"The attitude at many companies seems to be 'go out and get a tetanus jab if you can, otherwise tough",' says Gillian Howard, an employment lawyer at Howard & Howard, who secured a six-figure compensation payment for Ms Cawthorn. "Either companies should make sure employees get inoculated, or they should provide advice so that the employee can make an informed choice, without any pressure, on whether to travel." Company directors in the UK might in future find themselves held liable if mishaps befall a travelling employee.
Copyright © The Financial Times Limited