IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Travel Health Journal

Angeline telling her colleagues about IAMAT at UTMB.

From Egypt to China: Scholars hone travel health knowledge

Exploring travel medicine and global health

Cross-cultural experience is invaluable for travel medicine practitioners. Three of our scholars recently had the opportunity to hone their knowledge and skills with travel health experts in South Africa and the USA.

Ahmad Mosad Ibraheem of Mansoura, Egypt attended a 5-day course in Johannesburg with the South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM). Meng Jing (Angeline) of Chengdu, China and Liu Chunfang (Kathleen), of Shenzhen, China spent 8 weeks studying tropical medicine and global health at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas. Angeline and Kathleen currently practise travel medicine, while Ahmad is planning to introduce it into his practice.

After they recovered from jet lag, we caught up with Ahmad, Kathleen, and Angeline to find out more about their scholarship experience.

Expanding travel medicine in the Middle East

Ahmad, an avid traveller, sees a need for travel medicine specialists in Egypt. Having visited many countries and with a stint as an offshore emergency physician under his belt, Ahmad’s interest in travel medicine is a natural fit.

What aspect of the course did you like the most?

Travelling to altitude and diving medicine, as I like adventures and I think it will be great to encourage people to do what they like to do in a safe and healthy manner.

What are your plans to practise travel medicine in the future?

I have a dream to expand travel medicine in the Middle East, especially in Arab countries.

First, I am planning to introduce travel medicine to my region as most people haven’t heard of it and then I will teach my colleagues about many important aspects of travel medicine. I will start to practice travel medicine with my patients. Finally, I am thinking of designing a travel health application in Arabic.

Ahmad at Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa.
Ahmad at Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa.

Keeping travellers healthy in Shenzhen

In 2004, Kathleen was awarded an IAMAT scholarship to study at the University of Washington. Kathleen says her first IAMAT scholarship “laid a solid foundation for my career in the field.”

The course in Galveston allowed Kathleen to delve deeper into travel medicine and infectious diseases. Her final course report examined testing and treatment of Hepatitis C. During the course, Kathleen learned new screening processes for Hepatitis C, which she plans to incorporate into her practice at the travel clinic in Shenzhen.

What are your plans to practise travel medicine in the future?

I plan to do more follow-up and get feedback from my patients after consultation and vaccination, particularly when they are planning a trip abroad where an infectious disease is endemic.

How will the IAMAT scholarship help you with your professional goals?

As a travel medicine physician, the main goal is to provide comprehensive and good quality medical services for my patients. The course not only refreshed my previous knowledge, but allowed me to learn systematically about tropical medicine and global health through clinical observation and research. This is very relevant to my work with the travel clinic, infectious disease surveillance and management of suspected cases, as well as providing training for my colleagues in Shenzhen.

Kathleen and Angeline in the Molecular Diagnostics Lab at UTMB.
Kathleen and Angeline in the Molecular Diagnostics Lab at UTMB.

Thinking globally in Chengdu

Another previous IAMAT scholar, Angeline was able to build on her past training in Hawaii as well as her clinical experience. Angeline’s final course report detailed the risk of Yellow Fever in China – a topical subject considering China’s first imported cases of Yellow Fever were confirmed earlier this year.

What new clinical standards or processes did you learn from the course that you plan to implement in your medical practice?

The course helped me focus on the follow-up of travellers living with Hepatitis C or HIV. Hepatitis C and HIV infection are both chronic, which not only cause serious complications but also elicit discrimination. I plan to focus on psychological counselling, helping them face the diseases positively, and cooperating with local [Chinese] Centers for Disease Control to ensure patients receive prompt and appropriate treatment, and follow-up.

What’s more, as HIV-positive travellers and expatriates can now stay in China for long-term work or study, I think our centre has the advantage of keeping them up to date with treatment and helping them communicate with their family physicians more smoothly.

What are your plans to practise travel medicine in the future?

I really hope that I can provide more individualized pre- and post-travel consultations to international travellers who come to visit my hometown in Sichuan province and keep them healthy and safe throughout their stay.

Angeline (left) and Kathleen (right) show off their certificates from UTMB with Professor Lynn Soong.
Angeline (left) and Kathleen (right) show off their certificates from UTMB with Professor Lynn Soong.

 Do you have a passion for travel medicine?

Applications are now open for 2016 and 2017 scholarships. If you are a nurse or doctor with an interest in travel medicine, you may be eligible!

Nurses and doctors from South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Southeast Asia are encouraged to apply for the 2016 IAMAT Stella & George Bryant Travel Medicine Scholarship. The training consists of 5 days of clinical observation (31 October-4 November, 2016) and 5 days of study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (7-11 November, 2016).

Application deadline: 15 August, 2016.

Nurses and doctors from African countries are encouraged to apply for the 2017 IAMAT Violet Williams Travel Medicine Scholarship. The 5-day course with SASTM takes place in Johannesburg from 3-7 May, 2017.

Application deadline: 30 September, 2016.

Learn more about the IAMAT Scholarship Fund

For more information and to apply, please contact us.