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Travel Management

 July 11, 2014
Ebola Outbreak In West Africa -- Rising Number Of Calls To International SOS

 International SOS has seen another rise in the number of requests for advice on Ebola in recent weeks.

Since 1 March, 2014 the medical and travel security group has received hundreds of requests for advice on the outbreak, which has spread to different countries in West Africa.

The number of requests for help in June was 400% up on the total figure for the month of May.

The requests come from client organisations and/or their members travelling overseas or living and working as expatriates. In recent months doctors at International SOS have supported over 100 client organisations with physicians working on client sites in a number of locations close to where cases have been confirmed.

Other data from the 27 International SOS assistance centres shows:

- Approx 56% of the requests were generated in Guinea, 17% in Liberia and 16% Sierra Leone
- Outside Africa, the UK has generated the highest number of calls (approximately 6%)
- In April there were 83% more requests for advice than in March

Dr Doug Quarry, Medical Director at International SOS said: "The risk to business travellers is low, if they follow the proper procedures. Business travellers or expats who need medical assistance should be aware that going to a local hospital that might be treating people with Ebola is risky. Variable infection control practices in hospitals allow the disease to spread to healthcare workers. International SOS continues to monitor this and ensures we refer members to Ebola-free facilities. Understanding the situation and making precautionary calls to International SOS reduces the risk of infection and ensures clients receive safe, high-quality treatment from a secure medical centre."

After Ebola was first recognised in Guinea in late March, International SOS quickly implemented a number of measures, including:

- Disease awareness training for staff at client organisations
- Adapting the layout of our clinics to handle Ebola cases
- Developing educational tools to help reduce the spread of Ebola among local communities

International SOS has developed a toolkit to educate medical staff and local populations on how to recognise Ebola and prevent its transmission to other individuals. The toolkit has been made available to the United Nations and other organisations in the affected and neighbouring countries. The group has also made available an internationally-recognised Ebola specialist to act as an advisor to both local and major city hospitals in Liberia and consult with the Liberian Ministry of Health & Social Welfare. Support has also been offered to the Red Cross, World Health Organisation and Médecins Sans Frontières.

A dedicated website with up-to-date information about the outbreak is available for members around the world and a special webinar is being held to address the concerns of employees working or travelling in West Africa.

Dr Quarry continued: "It is crucial when responding to a threat like Ebola that International SOS works side by side with government health authorities and partners with them in their response. The outbreak is far from over but we are much better prepared and remain determined to remain vigilant about the well-being of everyone in the affected regions."

International SOS

International SOS is the world's leading medical and travel security risk services company. We care for clients across the globe, from more than 700 locations in 89 countries. Our expertise is unique: More than 11,000 employees are led by 1,200 doctors and 200 security specialists. Teams work night and day to protect our members.

We have pioneered a range of preventative programmes and offer an unparalleled response to emergencies. We are passionate about helping clients put 'Duty of Care' into practice. With us multinational corporate clients, governments and NGOs can mitigate risks for their people working remotely or overseas.