Have you ever thought about what you would do if you got sick while traveling? We hope this never happens, but sometimes it’s reality! When traveling, your body adjusts to a new environment, schedule, and eating habits! This can make your body fight back and show symptoms of sickness.
To prevent yourself from getting in this unpleasant situation, we want to give you tips on what to do to avoid getting sick while traveling:
1. Don’t Drink Anything But Bottled Water
In just a few weeks we will be posting about the world’s water crisis. The fact is, there are places in the world that have contaminated water. Do your research of the place you are traveling, and if it’s an area that does not offer safe drinking water, be sure to only drink the bottled water. This will help you avoid vomiting, diarrhea and contracting a disease.
2. Keep Your Hands Clean
“Hand washing is the single most important thing anybody can do to protect their health,” advises. Dr. Philip Tierno, professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU School of Medicine and author of The Secret Life of Germs.
Keep in mind, if the water where you are staying is contaminated, this is not a way to help you avoid sickness. Instead, keep your hands clean through hand sanitizer or other sanitizing methods.
3. Get Your Vaccinations
It’s important to visit with a Travel Clinic before traveling overseas to get up to date on health information as well as vaccinations. We created a Complete Vaccination Guide For Travels you can refer to as well!
4. Take Vitamins
Get your body’s immune system working at its best by taking vitamins before and during the trip! A few suggested vitamins are a probiotic, Vitamin C, and Elderberry. Talk to your doctor about the best vitamins for immunity.
5. Prevent Bug Bites
Bugs carry diseases — some deadly such as Malaria. Click here to read everything you need to know about Malaria. The key to avoiding bug bite related illnesses is to do your best to prevent bug bites in the first place! Bring the best bug spray and a mosquito net for bedtime if you are traveling to an area with Malaria. Also, where clothes that cover your skin if possible. It may be hot, so be sure the material can wick away moisture.
6. Stay Hydrated
I know we mentioned bottled water, but we also want to mention the importance of staying hydrated. If you are working in a hands-on environment with a busy schedule, it’s easy to forget to take frequent water breaks. But, to avoid illness and to keep yourself healthy, make staying hydrated an important priority!
What tips do YOU have for avoiding sickness while traveling? Tell us in the comments!
Access to health care is something many people take advantage of in Western countries. We don’t realize that though health care can always be improved, we are fortunate to have the number of doctors for the number of people that we do.
In an article from World Atlas, there is a chart that shows the countries with the fewest doctors per millions of people. You can see the results in the chart below:
The article said: “In Liberia, the worst case presented on this list, there are essentially ten doctors for every million people. As you move down the list, Guinea fares little better, at 100 physicians per million people. In contrast, high-income OECD countries, like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, boast figures closer to 3,000 doctors per million people.”
Though these countries are some of the poorest in the world, they still deserve quality and accessible healthcare! But because they are some of the poorest in the world, the resources are few. Education and training are harder to come by, and for those who do gain access to training, there are few resources to do their job well and the financial benefits are nowhere near what they would be if they worked in another country. According to the British Medical Journal, “African countries have lost about $2.6 billion dollars training doctors who are now living in western countries. A staggering 25 to 50 percent of African-born doctors are working overseas.” This statistic is devastating the health care in the countries who are losing their trained physicians.
For those doctors who do stay in African countries, many serve those who can afford their services. So there is a service discrepancy where the majority of people in the country are not receiving the care they desperately need. There are major consequences to the service discrepancy that are affecting many. There are women who suffered childbirth complications who never receive help. There are men, women, and children who struggle with lifelong disease or pain that could be cured or treated if they could only receive the help that they need. There are also many preventable diseases that affect those people who are unable to get vaccinations or aren’t educated on proper prevention.
When asked about what can be done to improve healthcare in African countries, WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said, “Countries should strengthen the leadership and governance of health sectors to gain the confidence of all stakeholders. Governments should be more innovative in raising revenues from domestic sources and ensuring that all of their populations have access to essential health services. They should also improve the quality of health services and the safety of patient and health workers, and build partnerships with civil society and other partners in order to expand access. Investing in district and community health systems should be a priority that can contribute towards universal health coverage”
Another way to help is by supporting organizations like Mission Partners for Christ in sending trained physicians into places that would otherwise not have access to healthcare. We may not be able to help all, but we can still help many with each and every trip we take.
You can help support what we do to make a difference:
- Join a mission’s team!
- Financially support one of our trips.
- Pray for our mission’s teams.
- Donate medical supplies for one of our trips.
Ask us how you can help, and we would love to partner with you! Contact us here.
It’s important to be spending time in prayer leading up to a mission’s trip. Prayer is the most powerful tool we have and can completely transform our experience on the mission field. But with all that you have to prepare — fundraising, vaccinations, packing, etc. — it’s easy to put prayer on the back burner and be less intentional than you would like to be.
We want to make it easy and give you seven prayers to pray before your mission’s trip:
1. Pray that you will show up with open eyes.
You will be stepping outside of your comfort zone, so it may be easy to try to shield yourself from the difficult things you will see. Pray that God will open your eyes to see His people through a lens that He sees them.
2. Pray that you will develop a clear voice to speak the Gospel.
God can use us whether we speak well or struggle speaking at all. Spend time in prayer that the voice you use to spread the Gospel will be clear and unhindered. The Lord WILL speak through you when you are open and willing!
3. Pray that your ears are available to listen to the Lord’s leading and the needs of the people.
You will have conversations leading up to your trip and during your trip that you will need to have open ears to listen to. This could be encouragement or advice from those who have gone before you. Or the people you serve may express their needs to you, and, by listening, you can make a deeper impact!
4. Pray that you will learn to give love unconditionally.
Everywhere you go, there are people who are hard to love. You may be serving someone who is completely unwilling to listen to the Gospel or is ungrateful for the treatment you offer. This can be discouraging, but it’s also part of what to expect. Pray that you can love those people despite them keeping you at arm’s length and being ungrateful.
You may even struggle to connect with people on your team, but you must love them as well.
5. Pray for your spirit to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is always willing to take an active role in your life; all you have to do is ask! Begin praying before your trip that the Holy Spirit will fill you with its wisdom. Learn to recognize the Holy Spirit’s nudges and follow His lead! This will be great to practice before you are on the mission field.
6. Pray that you will develop a servant’s heart.
Since you signed-up to attend a mission’s trip, it can be assumed that you have a servant’s heart. But some sign-up for the experience or the volunteer hours/class credit and the serving doesn’t come naturally. That’s okay! You can pray beforehand that you will develop a servant’s heart, if you haven’t already, and watch the Lord grant you this desire!
7. Pray that your heart breaks for what breaks Christ’s.
The Lord loves those you are going to serve. His heart breaks for them! Pray for a lens that allows you to see what the Lord sees and for your heart to break for what breaks Christ’s heart. This will give you a deeper connection to the people AND to Christ.
For those who have gone on a mission’s trip and intentionally prayed beforehand, how do you believe that impacted your trip? Tell us in the comments!
Most of us are caught up on routine vaccinations, but before you go on a mission’s trip, you need to be sure you have the right vaccinations that go with the area you are traveling to.
We want to make it easy and walk through the possible vaccinations that you may need as well as educate you on each disease and virus you can contract if you don’t protect yourself.
Below is a detailed chart of the vaccinations each area around the world recommends before travel:
||Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Malaria*
|Mexico / Caribbean
||Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Malaria*
||Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Malaria*
||Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B
||Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis
||Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria*
||Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Meningitis, Malaria*
Here’s the breakdown of each vaccination…
HEPATITIS B VACCINATION
Especially for those who attend medical mission’s trips, it’s important to get the Hepatitis B vaccine. The virus is contracted through blood or bodily fluids by an infected person. There are not systems in place to protect you from exposure in the hospitals of third world countries the way hospitals are set up in the U.S. The symptoms of Hep B can lead to lifelong health issues.
HEPATITIS A VACCINATION
Exposure to Hepatitis A affects the liver through food or water that has been poorly sanitized. As a result, Hep A leaves a person sick and nauseous for months. At home, you prepare your own food or order food from a restaurant that has preparation health guidelines to follow. But when you are overseas, food is usually prepared for you or is left sitting out without proper precautions. You aren’t always able to control the sanitization of the food you eat, so it’s important to protect yourself.
You’ve all heard of the bacteria Salmonella. It’s the reason we can’t enjoy raw cookie dough as frequently as we like. Well, Typhoid is a fever caused by Salmonella. The same symptoms as Hep A occur as a result of Typhoid exposure. If left untreated, the sickness and fever can be life-threatening.
Another disease that attacks the liver is the Yellow Fever virus. Mosquitos in tropical and subtropical areas of the world like South America and Africa spread the Yellow Fever virus. The symptoms vary but can potentially be dangerous.
You’ve probably heard of malaria, but there’s another disease that can be spread by mosquitos in parts of Australia and Asia. Mosquitos are not only outdoors, they can come inside as well so they are nearly impossible to avoid altogether. Japanese Encephalitis causes mild sickness but in some cases can produce inflammation of the brain and be life-threatening. Contracting this disease is rare, but it’s worth protecting yourself.
You will want to be sure to eliminate the threat of Meningitis. This disease is caused by bacteria that is passed through the saliva of someone carrying the disease. If you contract Meningitis, you can become very sick and even obtain an infection of the bloodstream.
One more thing
Be sure to also get a malaria preventative prescription.
So far, there is no vaccination for malaria, but there are a few preventative prescriptions for the disease that can be taken throughout your trip. Malaria is also contracted by mosquitos and can lead to severe health concerns if left untreated. Ask your doctor for a prescription and talk through the side effects of the medication. To prepare for any side effects, take pills before leaving and see how your body responds. Be sure you have enough pills and can get a different prescription before your trip if needed!
It’s important to take any potential fears out of your mission’s trip experience, and one way to do that is to be prepared with the right vaccinations you need to stay healthy.
Note: Talk with your doctor for more information on these recommended vaccines so you can make the right decision for you!
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thinking about joining one of our teams? GREAT! Here are 10 tips to help you physically and mentally prepare for an overseas medical mission trip!
Medical missions trips are transformational experiences for all involved. Serving others changes the hearts of the servants and those being served. Maybe you’re a medical professional considering a medical missions trips but are uncertain about what to expect.
Here are ten things you need to know:
- One of the biggest barriers will be the language.
Depending on where you are headed globally, you will most likely face language barriers. This does not mean you have to learn another language before you can join a medical mission trip. But what it does mean is to be aware and to have translators readily available. You will not be able to serve the community well if you cannot communicate effectively with one another. Clear communication is essential to helping people with their health needs
- Expect primitive conditions.
You are traveling outside of the United States to places that are in need of proper healthcare. This means many other amenities will not be available either. You won’t be able to spend every night with a nice air conditioned room, familiar food, a hot shower, etc. but that’s part of the adventure! You will most likely be staying in primitive conditions and need to be prepared. Even the access to clean drinking water may be limited. For example, 60% of Tanzania households have water from a protected source as of 2012, so you will most likely have access, but if you do not think you can handle little to no electricity or discomfort possibly the entire time you are there, then you may want to reconsider joining a medical mission’s trip. But remember the rewards that will come from serving in this capacity far outweigh the discomforts you may experience.
- Expect limited supplies and access to equipment.
The number of physicians is not the only thing lacking in the third world. Supplies and access to medical equipment are scarce as well. When you are on a medical missions trip, you cannot expect to have the same resources. Find out what equipment and supplies will be available, and count on bringing most of what you need! Specialized dressings, medications, and sutures are often the first supplies gathered. (Remember, if you plan to bring medical equipment, it will require a heavy-duty electrical converter to work).
- Plan to have no plan.
In the United States, everyone has a rigid schedule, and it’s expected for people to abide by a plan. Other countries are much more go-with-the-flow. Setting an arrival time may happen but don’t expect locals to take it very seriously. Also, things are so unpredictable due to the environment not always being stable or reliable, so one must be flexible with any plans that are made. Leave your rigid, timely mindset in the states and prepare to be adaptable.
- Be ready to try new foods!
The type of food you are used to eating will not be accessible on a medical missions trip. You will like some foods you try and others you won’t. It’s not because the food there is “bad,” it’s because it is different and takes some time to adapt. Before going on a medical mission’s trip, branch out and try different foods! Be prepared to say “yes” to what is offered to you. Going hungry is not an option as you have a lot of work to do and need to show up as someone who is reliable and alert.
- Take time before you leave to do some major preparation.
Medical missions trips take a lot of preparation. You will need to take the time to raise money for the supplies you need and then gather those supplies as well. You will want to do research on the types of health concerns you will likely face as some you may be seeing for the first time. All overseas missions trips also require certain vaccinations before entering the country (go to www.cdc.gov to find out what vaccinations are required for each country and tips for staying healthy abroad). Traveling overseas also requires getting your passport and other important travel documents. Make sure you prepare in advance so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.
- Pack everything.
Packing “light” or “minimally” does not apply to traveling to a third world country. You cannot buy the supplies you need in most places. If you are not sure what to pack for every scenario, check with your team leader. They are experienced travelers who can advise you what to pack and what to leave behind.
- Fundraising is essential.
Unless you have been saving up for the trip’s cost, you may need to raise funds or at least reach out to pharmaceutical companies or hospitals to gather the necessary donations for your trip trip.This is a great way for family and friends to support you if they’re unable to join you for the trip. Remember, you want to be able to leave resources behind for local physicians when you are no longer able to treat patients.
- There are cultural differences.
When heading into unchartered territory, you may find yourself surprised at the differences that surround you. For example, the hospitals are likely in poor condition, and though the physicians have proper training, their resources are few. Also, health care, dental care, health education, and nutrition education are highly needed, and medical specialists should know that the lack of knowledge in these areas makes it difficult to approach patients in the same way. Read our list of book recommendations here [insert link to book list] to help you prepare for the cultural differences you will face.
- Education is critical.
Because of the cultural differences, education is key! There will not be opportunities for follow-up appointments to check-in on the patients, so be prepared with ways to educate patients for preventative care and after-care. Your team leader will help you know what is encouraged and what behaviors to avoid.
Most of all, be prepared for the positive transformation you will leave behind and take with you!
There are lots of things to learn before, during, and after you serve on a medical mission trip, but don’t let that scare you! It’s still one of the best ways to create major change in the lives of people with little to no access to medical care.
See you in the mission field!
Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ