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Expat Investor : October 2007
Fast Facts 88015 Fast Facts 88241 Fast Facts 88014 Fast Facts 88420 ...be in safe hands. Award-winning international private medical insurance for you and your family. Wherever you are... Contact us now for a quotation or further advice on International Healthcare T +44 (0)1252 745900 E email@example.com W www.interglobalpmi.com Innovations in International Private Medical Insurance Best Individual International PMI Provider | Portfolio International Awards 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom IGUKAD19/0207 HEALTHCARE expatinvestor.com 16 EXPAT INVESTOR October 2007 Health issues in your neck of the woods A lungful of infection In this regular column featuring key expat locations around the world, AXA PPP Healthcare profiles Saudi Arabia. In the central region of Saudi Arabia, summer temperatures can often be unbearable, with an average temperature of 45 degrees Celsius. The winter, however, is pleasantly dry and cool. The eastern region of the country is somewhat cooler than the central region. Rainfall comes mostly in light showers, which occur normally in the winter months. The sand and dust in the air can cause some expatriates to suffer from respiratory problems. Hard work and long hours in high temperatures can also affect the immune system and compromise the body's ability to fight illness. www.netdoctor.co.uk recommends that you receive the following vaccinations: Typhoid -- 10 days before you travel. Hepatitis A -- two weeks before you travel. Diphtheria -- three months before you travel. Tuberculosis -- three months before you travel. Hepatitis B -- two months before you travel. Rabies -- one month before you travel. Meningococcal meningitis (this is mandatory for visitors arriving for Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages) -- two- three weeks before you travel. A yellow fever vaccination will also be required if you are entering Saudi Arabia from a country infected with this disease. All travellers are advised to ensure that tetanus and polio inoculations are kept up-to-date. Malaria is endemic in the southwest region. Saudi Arabian work visas require a medical certificate of examination. You will also be required to have had a negative AIDS test. It is a good idea in any case to undergo a thorough medical exam before departure, and to bring a copy of your medical records with you to Saudi Arabia. Your children will also need medical records to enrol at school. The medical facilities in Saudi Arabia fall into two categories: public and private. Within the public sector, medical care at government hospitals is free, although admission to expatriates is restricted to emergency only treatment. The UK has no reciprocal health agreement in place with Saudi Arabia, which means that UK citizens will be expected to pay for all non- emergency treatment themselves. Private hospitals and clinics in Saudi Arabia often provide higher- quality care than the average government hospital, although they do charge for their services. You must also be aware that doctors and larger, private medical institutions will only accept cash for their services rendered, and payment is expected immediately. English is spoken in most hospitals. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office states: "Healthcare facilities in major cities in Saudi Arabia are of a high standard. Outside these major cities most towns have a health centre or basic hospital. Serious cases generally necessitate ambulance/air transfer to hospital in a major city that might be a distance away." Therefore, it would be advisable to ensure that your private medical insurance policy covers you for emergency evacuation and repatriation, should you need to be transported to another hospital or medical facility. Most western-made drugs are available in Saudi Arabia and there are a high number of excellent pharmacies available. If you feel it is necessary to bring certain prescription drugs with you into the Kingdom, make sure you carry a letter from your doctor explaining what the drugs are, and what ailment they are designed to treat. Without this verification, customs agents might mistake medication for narcotics. Finally, all water should be regarded as potentially contaminated in Saudi Arabia. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have been boiled or sterilised first. Swimming and paddling in fresh water should be avoided, but swimming pools that are well chlorinated and maintained are safe. Milk is unpasteurised and should also be boiled. In this regular column on medical conditions, Sneh Khemka, Assistant Medical Director, BUPA International, explains Tuberculosis. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that a third of the world's population (1.5 billion people) is infected with Tuberculosis (TB), with three million people dying from the disease each year. This infectious disease can affect the lungs and other parts of the body, leading to serious complications and even death -- especially if the body is weakened by other health problems. You're more likely to get TB if your immune system is already weakened by another illness or medicines that suppress the immune system, and if you travel to, or live in, a large population from a country where TB is common. In many cases. the body's immune system successfully fights off the infection, and the individual is then immune. However, if the body cannot fight the bug completely, the TB can become latent and reactivate later on, usually following an unrelated illness. Usually, the first infection occurs in the lungs, although it can reactivate in any organ or tissue of the body. There are a number of ways to test whether a person is immune to TB, and most people from the western world will have been vaccinated in early childhood. The most common test for immunity is the Heaf test. This involves a small injection into the forearm, and then examining the area of the injection one week later to look for a reaction in the form of a raised red area. If this is present, it means that the individual has been exposed to TB, either through infection or through vaccination. The strength of the reaction will tell the doctor or nurse whether further action is required. The most widely used tests for active TB involve either a chest X-ray or analysis of a sample of saliva. The latter can also identify which combination of drugs is likely to work against the particular strain of TB that may be present. People with either active or latent TB are treated with a combination of antibiotic tablets to kill the bacteria. Treating latent TB prevents it becoming active. The best way to control TB in developing countries is to improve living conditions and nutrition; however, many countries also run a large-scale immunisation programme. Vaccination is by far the most effective way to prevent the disease from spreading.