Meet Vinay Vaidya from Nepal and Ali Raza from Pakistan. If you get sick away from home, you can count on them to help you.
Both doctors trained at Hainan Medical University for three months with the 2013 IAMAT Hainan Travel Medicine Scholarship. This was made possible thanks to the generous support from IAMAT members.
Ali's goal is to one day practice travel medicine back home in Pakistan, specifically in the Khagan Valley, a beautiful mountainous area that attracts many tourists. He became interested in travel medicine during a trip to Lanzhou, located in the semi-arid region of northwestern China. After coming down with a rash and dry skin, he realized how climate and geography affected his health.
Says Ali, "I had been living in Haikou, a humid tropical city, for a long time. So I was uncomfortable when I first arrived in Lanzhou, my skin started to chap and I had an unbearable itch. Being a doctor, I knew that it was an allergy to the dry climate, but I did not have a solution to treat it. I felt ashamed that I could not cure myself. This sparked my interest in travel medicine knowledge; I want to be able to diagnose and treat travellers who may encounter the same problems I had."
Interested in community medicine, Ali sees the similarities with travel medicine which incorporates different disciplines including epidemiology, immunology, and geography. As a recent grad, Ali graduated with top marks from Hainan Medical University and was recommended for the scholarship by his professors. As part of the training, he got the opportunity to learn about the health challenges facing travellers, including the effects of poor sanitation and how to diagnose and treat infectious diseases, as well as visiting local travel health centres, emergency departments, and the Hainan Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vinay's interest in travel medicine stems from where he lives. Nepal's economy is highly dependent on tourism and he sees the challenges that travellers face in his country. A place renowned for its trekking and mountaineering, Nepal lacks the medical resources in remote areas to deal with travellers who need emergency care.
Says Vinay, "These places can cause trekkers to experience AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and failing to descend may lead to further complications like cerebral edema and pulmonary edema. Treacherous mountain trails make it impossible for immediate attention so they have to be flown back to the capital for treatment." Vinay, who trained as a dermatologist, also sees travellers who get extreme frostbite and he's often confronted with making decisions to save or amputate limbs.
He sees the need to help people who travel to the Terai Region, flatlands located in the south and Nepal's source of agricultural production. Travellers going to this area are at risk of getting Malaria and kala-azar (visceral Leishmaniasis). "Travellers need to be counselled against these infectious diseases. Travellers' Diarrhea is another problem that almost all of them experience, so we need to tell them about safety measures," he adds.
Thanks to members like you, the IAMAT Hainan scholarship gave Vinay the opportunity to hone his skills in travel medicine. If you are sick in Nepal and end up at IAMAT's affiliated clinic, Nepal International Clinic, in Kathmandu, be sure to ask for him!
Last reviewed and updated: December 21, 2016