Tuesday, 03 March 2015

Aon WorldAware Issues Travel warning as Uganda Faces Typhoid Outbreak

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Aon South Africa has issued travel warnings to its clients via its WorldAware operations centre regarding a typhoid outbreak in Uganda. As at the end of last week, about 700 cases of Typhoid had been reported.  Uganda’s Ministry of Health has launched an aggressive response against the Typhoid outbreak that hit Kampala City and parts of the neighbouring districts of Wakiso and Mukono last month. 

According to officials at the ministry, Kisenyi Health Center IV which is the designated treatment center has so far treated 403 of the 513 cases. The death toll on the outbreak stands at two people.  Patients have responded positively to the Ceftriaxone and Ciprofloxacin treatment being administered to them, raising hope that the outbreak would be contained into a short time.  

“The cause of infections is suspected to be drinking of contaminated water from water sources around the affected areas. Typhoid fever is an acute illness associated with fever caused by bacteria from a group called Salmonella. The bacteria are deposited in water or food by a human carrier and are then spread to other people in the area. The disease is transmitted through eating food and drinking water that is contaminated with faeces. Kampala Capital City Authority medical staff has broadly advised people living in the city and visitors to refrain from buying any fruits, juices or ice cream from vendors on the street to avoid infection,” explains Simon Rutte, Senior Analyst: Crisis Management at Aon South Africa.

“Travellers in Uganda should make themselves aware of all water advisories that have been implemented by the Authorities. Travellers are advised to only drink from water sources that are clearly labelled as potable (bottled water).  Avoid eating cold foods, vegetables, fruits and drink safe water from reliable sources and wash hands with soap and water as frequently as possible. Symptoms include high fever and abdominal pain, cough, joint pains, dizziness and general sickness. If travellers experience any of the mentioned symptoms they are strongly advised to seek immediate medical attention,” adds Simon.

Aon’s WorldAware Operations Centre in Johannesburg supports its principle WorldAware Operations Centre in Chicago.  The aim is to supply Aon WorldAware clients with more regional specific information around Sub-Saharan African countries in addition to conducting risk assessments and travel risk related research and analysis.

The risks that travelling employees face is growing in frequency and magnitude and includes:

  • Health and safety risks
  • Unpredictable natural disasters such as floods, fires and earthquakes
  • Violent crime due to increasing social and economic divisions within countries
  • Terrorism and political violence

“Organisations have a duty of care to safeguard their travelling employees. This includes monitoring country threat levels, preparing personnel prior to travel, being able to locate travellers and having procedures in place to react to travel related incidents, from the routine to the extraordinary,” explains Simon.

It is more important than ever for traveling employees to arm themselves with knowledge in advance of their trips in order to be prepared for any eventuality – from a kidnapping to an earthquake or tsunami such as the one experienced in Japan which cut off all communication with the outside world, through to a health crisis. Even the prospect of an employee experiencing a heart attack or contracting a life-threatening illness in a remote area far from medical facilities needs to be properly planned for.

“Ensure that your business travellers are informed by thoroughly researching the city, country and region to which they are planning to travel. Aon’s WorldAware Solutions provides travel risk analysis, safe travel policies, training and awareness, risk managed travel and incident response, incorporating the management of travel risk exposure into one system that wraps around existing insurance policies and relationships.

“When a travelling employee is in crisis, how quickly and effectively the company reacts is critical – whether it’s a kidnapping, a sudden unexpected and serious illness or a natural disaster.  It can mean the difference between recovering and not at all for both the employee and company,” concludes Simon.

Published in Health and Medicine