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

Travel Health Journal

Dr Elaine Jong IAMAT

Making a difference in the lives of travellers

This week, we’re sharing a letter to our members from Dr. Elaine Jong. Dr. Jong is Chair of IAMAT’s International Medical Advisory Board and Clinical Professor (Emeritus) of Medicine at the University of Washington.

This article is part of our 55th Anniversary blog series. To learn more, visit our 55th Anniversary page.

When IAMAT was established in 1960, travellers did not have timely information on health conditions at their destination: There was no country-by-country advice on food and water safety, climate and environmental conditions, infectious diseases like malaria, or even vaccine recommendations. The health of travellers was not a priority for the medical community, but IAMAT changed all that and became a pioneer in the field of travel health.

Fifty-five years on, the vision that led the late Dr. Vincenzo Marcolongo to develop health information for travellers and to coordinate an international network of well-trained English-speaking doctors is more relevant than ever.

What makes IAMAT’s work unique is the voluntary participation of doctors and the input of medical contacts around the world who offer invaluable perspectives on local health conditions. Feedback from our members who have experienced health issues abroad also contributes to the awareness of a traveller’s health needs.

IAMAT lives on because it has been able to adapt

As communications and information gathering have become more efficient, there is a plethora of free advice on travel health topics from many sources, but IAMAT continues to serve as the traveller’s advocate.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteer healthcare professionals who monitor reports on global health conditions, preventive health measures, emergence and spread of diseases, and guidance from our physicians who provide the traveller with the best travel health information, IAMAT continues to stand out as a provider of trustworthy and relevant advice, be it for vacation, education, volunteerism or business.

Promoting the health of travellers through education

IAMAT recognizes clinicians’ need for continuing medical education in travel health and the challenges they face to obtain training in the countries where our travellers may most need help. Since 2002, we have awarded scholarships to physicians and nurses from resource-poor settings to attend travel and tropical medicine courses and professional meetings.

In the 1990’s, IAMAT was instrumental in introducing travel medicine in China in collaboration with the China International Travel Health Association. Through visiting lectureships, site inspections, and our scholarships, there are now IAMAT-recognized clinics throughout the country.

IAMAT scholars develop and promote travel medicine in their home countries, helping travellers and improving patient care in their community. As a result of our success to date and your support, we continue to expand our reach, awarding scholarships to medical practitioners from Nepal, Pakistan and Kenya.

Thanks to you, IAMAT can help others

I first became involved in this unique organization when I met Dr. Vincenzo Marcolongo in Calgary at an international meeting on malaria in 1984. I am proud to be a friend and supporter of an organization with such a long history and such worthy goals. Today, thanks to your generous support and loyalty, the dedication of our doctors and the commitment of our scholars, we celebrate love of travel and making the world a healthier place.

I have seen the difference that IAMAT makes in the lives of travellers.  Together we can ensure that it remains a strong voice for responsible and healthy travel.

Yours truly,

Dr. Elaine Jong
Chair, International Medical Advisory Board, IAMAT
Clinical Professor (Emeritus) of Medicine, University of Washington

Visit our 55th Anniversary page for more articles celebrating milestones in our history, our work, and our relationships with doctors and travellers. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Take an #IAMAT55 selfie with your membership card or medical directory
  • Share how IAMAT has made a difference in your travels
  • Tell a friend about IAMAT (tag us with #IAMAT55 on Facebook or Twitter!)
  • Shoot a 30-60 second video showcasing why you love to travel
  • Donate and give the gift of healthy travel