Posts Tagged ‘overseas travel’

medical recordsAny person with average health ought to be able to go almost anywhere in the world.  In the last few days, however, I have had several conversations about health and short-term mission workers, so let’s talk about it briefly.

As a general rule, you should be in pretty good health for most short-term mission trips. Why?

  • Even just air travel requires pretty good health: carrying suitcases and bags, sometimes climbing outdoor ramps into planes, lifting bags into overhead spaces, sitting (in middle seats) for hours, and the dehydration of overseas travel.
  • Adjusting to new places: eating and sleeping hours are confused because of time zone changes, changes in air quality, changes in altitude, widely varying degrees of cleanliness.
  • New food and water: Trying new foods can be fun, but it can also make you very sick. You may also have problems eating regularly, if that is important to your overall health. And guarding against contaminated water is harder than you think. For instance, you can get bad water in ice cubes, hot tea, soup, stew, popsicles, even lettuce. You can get it in the shower or brushing your teeth—and especially swimming—or even baptizing.
  • New animals.  I’m not so worried about your being eaten by lions, but maybe by mosquitoes or lice or gnats, some of which can make you very sick.  Poorer countries don’t always clean up after animals like you might want, so you have to watch where you walk. If you handle chickens or other feathered creatures, you can pick up stuff too. That’s why U.S. Customs asks you if you have been on a farm or been in contact with farm animals while overseas…..
  • No elevators or air conditioners! You need to know if the place you are going is hot or cold because most people in most countries do not control the air temperature or quality in their homes. At best they might have a fan. In addition, you need to know if you can climb the steps into apartments—sometimes several floors up, multiple times a day?  Or walk 30 minutes to the bus stop?
  • Availability of quality health care! Are you subject to attacks (asthma, for instance) or dizziness or do you have to see a doctor either quickly and/or fairly often for any condition?  You cannot assume the availability of health care, accessibility to health care, and/or the quality of health care you might receive.

Now that I have made everyone over age 25 afraid to do short-term missions, let me say that in spite of all of the above concerns, there are many things you can do to guard your health while traveling and not exacerbate any relatively minor conditions that you may have to deal with.

Next post, we will look at things you can do to both protect your health and to accommodate minor conditions you already have, so that you can go on short-term mission projects.


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