International SOS announces the launch of its HealthMap 2012, now in its third year, designed to help companies better understand the medical risks in the markets where they operate and identify needs to put practices in place to ensure business continuity.
The newly introduced category, ‚variable‘ risk, applies to countries where the level of medical risk in the major cities is low or moderate, but in other areas is high. It should be highlighted that this level was applied to all the BRICS countries, an area where an increasing number of businesses are operating, and one that companies cannot afford to ignore in the current economic climate. Other countries in this category are Argentina, Azerbaijan, Chile, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Peru, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Variable medical risk in the BRICS countries:
In these countries the health risk is also determined by the availability or accessibility of adequate medical care. This is increasingly important to consider because with the ageing business population comes an increased individual health risk regarding pre-existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
China is an example showing the complexity of managing medical care in a BRIC country. Pre-hospital care is a new and emerging concept in China and primary transportation to an adequate hospital may not be readily available. The concept of disease and approach to treatment differs from Western countries and accessing care may be even more difficult because of the language barriers, the lack of medical specialisation and very busy medical structures. As clients continue to move operations to China, International SOS recently opened a new clinic for international medical care in Tianjin, its fifth clinic in China offering high quality medical support for travellers, expatriates and their families.
A difference between perception and reality of risks
The HealthMap 2012 is a great way of closing the gap between the perception and reality of health risks, which happens at both company and individual level.
For example, although a recent survey amongst 196 expatriates* revealed that individuals ranked infectious diseases, security problems and natural disasters as the biggest risks they faced. The reality, however, gives quite a different picture. An International SOS statistic of the leading causes of Air Ambulance evacuations out of Africa has determined that accidents and cardiovascular diseases, followed by infectious diseases and psychological problems, are the most common diagnoses. This is supported by data from the World Health Organisation. For a business to ensure it is prepared for operations in new areas, it must ensure that it correctly and fully understands the health risks that employees may face.
The necessity and benefits of prevention
The HealthMap 2012 provides companies operating internationally with an image representation of a global country-specific health risk rating. It enables decision makers to immediately recognise which destinations require adequate preventive risk assessment procedures and preparation programs to mitigate risks and protect companies‘ assets to ensure they provide adequate Duty of Care and to avoid litigation.
Dr Doug Quarry, Medical Director at International SOS, „While companies may see having the right health risk practises in place as a cost, they should also consider the rewards of doing so. There is a strong cost benefit for assuring that preventative risk management strategies are in place. It is also a valid argument from a business continuity point of view. Having the right risk assessment and preventative measures in place is not only the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense.“
A research project presented by the ISSA (International Social Security Association) last year highlighted the economic benefits of investment in safety and health for companies: It may be as strong as 1:2.2.
Further International SOS-Reports:International SOS launches Malaria solution SOS: Schutz für Expats und Geschäftsreisende weltweit What companies can do for expats and business traveller
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