Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 20980204
Travel Med Infect Dis 2010 Nov;8(6):364-72
BACKGROUND: Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers are a group of travellers highly exposed to infectious diseases due to the conditions and duration of their stay. Yet little is known about their knowledge concerning travel related health risks and their prevention.
METHODS: From July to September 2008 a self-administered questionnaire was given to all NGO workers coming for pre-travel consultation and to a comparison group of non-NGO travellers. It examined traveller’s knowledge about malaria, traveller’s diarrhea, transmission routes of infectious diseases and vaccine availability in both groups.
RESULTS: 249 NGO employees and 304 non-NGO travellers were surveyed. Mean age (33.7 vs 34.7 years) and sex ratio (M/F 1.16 vs 1.29) were comparable in both groups. Travel destination was more often Africa (75% vs 39%) and duration of travel was longer in the NGO group (75% vs 15% more than 1 month). NGO travellers had significantly better knowledge about the transmission routes of infectious diseases : percentages of accurate answers varied from 20% for Japanese encephalitis, 31% for yellow fever and 41% for hepatitis A to 70% for dengue and 96% for malaria, versus respectively 9%, 17%, 40%, 54% and 94% for the comparison group. However no differences were observed between the two groups concerning the means to prevent malaria or traveller’s diarrhea, or the symptoms necessitating medical consultation. In the sub-group analyses medical professionals (23% of the NGO group) performed better than other NGO workers.
CONCLUSIONS: Even though the knowledge was slightly better in the NGO group, there are still important gaps and a combined effort of all actors is needed to improve the security of expatriated humanitarian aid workers, in particular for the non-medical staff.