Health Problems while Working as a Volunteer or Humanitarian Aid Worker in Post-Earthquake Nepal
Introduction: Volunteers and humanitarian aid workers working in disaster struck areas of the world are a vulnerable group of travelers. Nepal saw an influx of these humanitarian aid workers following earthquakes in April and May 2015.
Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study conducted at CIWEC Hospital located in Kathmandu. A questionnaire was given to all volunteers and aid workers who arrived at the hospital for evaluation of health related problems and agreed to be part of the study.
Results: Ninety-five volunteers were enrolled in the study. Among these, 65 (68%) were female and 30 (32%) were male. The immunizations received before travel were Hepatitis A 82 (86%), Hepatitis B 82 (86%), Typhoid 70 (73%), Rabies 38 (40%), Japanese Encephalitis 34 (36%), Influenza within last one year 23 (24%), measles 48 (51%), Cholera 34 (36%),Tetanus within 10 years 71 (75%) and Varicella 38 (40%). Forty-four (45%) of travelers carried medication for treatment of Traveler’s Diarrhea (TD) which included Ciprofloxacin, Azithromycin, Loperamide and others like Metronidazole and Charcoal. The common illnesses encountered were gastrointestinal, skin problems , injury and musculoskeletal problems, respiratory problems, genitourinary problems, cardiovascular, psychological problems, syncope, and miscellaneous.
Conclusions: Traveler’s Diarrhea and dermatological problems were the most common health related problems. Volunteers were not properly prepared for self-treatment and pre-travel preparation was sub-optimal. Important pre travel health advice will decrease the incidence of health problems in this group.
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