4 questions you should ask yourself in the early stages of your travel plans.

From food-borne illnesses to infectious diseases, travelling abroad can pose certain risks to your health. That’s not to say you should stay home.

“Everyone should travel. There​ is lots to see and learn from other cultures. However, you should always go prepared,” says Dr Limin Wijaya​, Senior Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group.

  1. When should I see a doctor before my trip?

  2. You should visit a doctor four to six weeks before your departure date. “It is important to plan in advance as certain vaccinations require double or triple doses spread over a month to become effective,” explains Dr Wijaya.In addition, consulting early allows for contingency planning or a change in itinerary if required.

  3. Have I done research on the destination to find out the potential health hazards?

  4. Some developing countries are riskier than others and may require more medications or vaccinations to prevent health problems. The same country can represent different risks depending on the season. For instance, the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses increases during the monsoon.

    Dr Wijaya suggests, “You can look up websites like Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization to get reports of disease outbreaks and up-to-date information about health-related issues.”

    At the same time, you should research where you could get medical help at your destination should the need arise.

  5. What activities will I be engaging in?

  6. A rugged, outdoors-bound backpacker will not face the same risks as a business traveller. Discuss your proposed trip activities with your doctor. Dr Wijaya explains, “For instance, if you have a pre-existing heart problem and are intending to trek in Tibet, you should check whether travelling at a high altitude is advisable for you.”

  7. Have I got my vaccinations?

  8. If you are travelling to developing countries like India or South America, you will probably need standard vaccines against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid.

    Always keep a record of your vaccinations in case you need to show proof at your destination. For instance, certification of yellow fever vaccination is required by some countries in Africa and South America.

    In mala​ria-endemic locales, anti-malarial pills are a must.

The SGH Travel Clinic is run by specialis​ts from the Department of Infectious Diseases. It is a designated Yellow Fever Centre. The team of doctors and nurses will offer comprehensive travel advice and country-specific recommendations prior to your trip.

Read on for more health questions to ask yourself before travelling​.​

Ref: T12