The main reason for travel is holidays, with Europe being the most popular destination. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provide advice for travellers, includingsafety and security issues in individual countries. Nurses should be aware of this advice.
Travel health medicine is a fast growing specialist area of practice. In the UK it is predominantly delivered by nurses. UK travellers of all ages are becoming more adventurous. Some present with illnesses at short notice and some have pre-existing medical conditions. Therefore the art of delivering accurate and current advice to travellers is becoming more complex.
Guidance from the RCN on Travel health nursing: career and competence development defines the standards of care expected for a competent registered nurse, experienced/proficient nurse and a senior practitioner/expert nurse delivering travel health services. A recent audit and evaluation of this resource demonstrated that it was useful to practice, benchmarking the minimum training requirements and the complexity of travel medicine as well as providing useful practical tools. See: Perceptions and expectations of the RCN Travel Health Competencies Document. The competence document will be updated in 2017 based on the recommendations of this work.
Malaria, a preventable but potentially fatal disease, remains an important issue for UK travellers. As a nurse advising travellers, you should make every contact count and use every opportunity to engage, especially with those in vulnerable groups likely to return home to visit family in their country of origin (VFRs).
The UK Malaria Report 2015 provides current information on malaria cases imported into the United Kingdom (UK) in 2014
The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights World Malaria Day each year on 25 April
Public Health England (PHE) Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention (ACMP) released an updated edition of Guidelines for Malaria Prevention in Travellers from the UK 2015 This is an essential tool for nurses advising travellers.
The APPG report on malaria and neglected tropical diseases acknowledges the work of the UK in supporting and strengthening health systems in countries where malaria is endemic and where neglected tropical diseases can be identified and treated.
On 1 February 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations reported from Brazil, constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
With information on Zika virus changing regularly NaTHNaC has posted information for travellers and health professionals. Nurses advising travellers should be aware of the most current information.
Based on epidemiological evidence NaTHNaC has updated information and advice for travellers in October 2016, see: Update and advice for travellers including pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy.
For historical and current epidemiology of the Zika virus infections, including cases in UK travellers, see: Zika virus: epidemiology and cases diagnosed in the UK.
The Royal College of Midwives have also provided guidance on the Zika Virus.
Further information is available from Public Health England:
NaTHNaC (England Wales and Northern Ireland) and Health Protection Scotland's (HPS) TRAVAX (Scotland) are the designated State Parties for Yellow Fever provision in the UK under the WHO International Health Regulations (IHRs).
These parties have designed a mandatory training programme for designated Yellow Fever Vaccinating Centres (YFVCs). Information is on vaccination regularly updated and it is recommended that nurses remain up to date.
In July 2016, changes came into force regarding the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the duration of protection from the Yellow Fever vaccine. NaTHNaC has posted updated information and published a new HowTo guide on issuing the IHR yellow fever certificate: Getting to grips with the Yellow Fever certificate. This is also freely available on YouTube and iTunes.
NaTHNaC has updated clinical and administrative resources for healthcare professionals running or managing a YFVC, see: NaTHNaC launches the Yellow Fever Zone.
The conditions of Designation and Code of Practice for YFVC have been reviewed, revised and re-formatted.
See also: The NaTHNaC Training Portal.
CDC training the CDC Yellow Book and the World Health Organization's International Travel and Health 2016 updates all contain useful information for nurses on Yellow Fever. NHS Wales users can gain free access to TRAVAX resources via the NHS Wales website Health in WalesAs a nurse, you should stay alert to current information and the possibility of the risk of exposure to other diseases. For travellers returning ill from affected areas a full travel history should be taken before appropriate referral.
The FCO is a valuable source of advice for travellers and advisers and produces information on a variety of subjects.
The FCO provides useful pre-travel advice and and how to stay healthy and safe when abroad. See: Travel Aware - staying safe and healthy abroad.
Changes to the World overview:
Updated TravelHealthPro eBook:
The Faculty of Travel Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG) offers lifelong learning, which includes educational courses and examinations to support travel health professionals throughout their careers. See: Travel medicine. Nurses can also join the FTM as Affiliate Members and benefit from access to publications and reduced fees for conferences.
Other organisations that offer online courses, include:
A one day course aimed at healthcare professionals already practising travel health. Led by Jane Chiodini
10 March 2017
UCH Education Centre London
This conference has been designed to address the knowledge and skills front-line professionals need to provide up-to-date, quality travel advice
18 March 2017
14-18 May 2017
Travel Medicine: the big picture - 8 June 2017
4th International Triennial Conference, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Glasgow 8-9 June 2017
Travel Health Competence: Pointing you in the right direction
24 June 2017
RCN HQ Cavendish Square London
28 September – 1 October 2017
Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik, Croatia
5 October 2017
Annual Symposium and AGM, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
1 December 2017
The Manchester Conference Centre
2-4 May 2018